Universal Subtitles

Producers invited to crowdsource the translation of their programs

By Karen Everhart

Universal Subtitles, a project of the nonprofit Participatory Culture Foundation, is looking for long-form public media projects to translate into multiple languages through its crowdsourcing network.

In January the project worked with the PBS NewsHour and volunteers to produce translations and subtitles of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Within 17 hours, the speech had been converted to nine languages, said Nicolas Reville of PCF.

Now Universal Subtitles has partnered with American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, APM said at the PRPD conference.

The aim is to extend public media’s reach and value by creating and publishing reports in multiple languages, said Joaquin Alvarado, APM’s digital innovation chief. Translated web content not only boosts content usage but also raises a site’s search-engine rank.

Nicolas Reville of PCF invited public radio stations to try open-sourcing with a crowdsourced translation project. Pubcasters can sign on at publicinsightnetwork.org/prpd.

“Sign up even if you’re only half-clear about what we’re talking about,” Alvarado recommended.

Advocates say working with translation projects could deepen pubradio’s engagement with listeners who contribute language skills.

“This presents an opportunity to let people express their desire to do more with public media and gives you the opportunity to build a crew of folks who really care, people who will have deep engagement over a long period of time,” Reville said.

Universal Subtitles has created software for captioning and translating web video and will add audio and text-translation capabilities.

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