Caption Campaign Ads

A grassroots effort to get candidates to make their ads accessible. Besides, it's the law!

Time to Vote (for captioned ads)!

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Tomorrow is the day to go to the polls and vote. Regardless of your political affiliation, it is also time to recognize the candidates who did the most to make sure that their campaigns were fully accessible.

GOLD STAR: Awarded to candidates who didn’t need any information or encouragement as they were already making all the right moves.
Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State
Rebecca Otto, Auditor

SILVER STAR: Awarded to candidates who, after receiving information, made all their materials accessible.
No one qualified for this level.

BRONZE STAR: Awarded to candidates who, after calls and some prodding, made some of their materials accessible.

Mark Dayton. None of his YouTube ads are captioned. However, we are told that all of his TV ads have consistently been captioned.

Tom Emmer. After we called, they captioned all of his “formal” YouTube ads, but not the ones that show him campaigning around the state. Also, none of his TV ads appear to be captioned.

Tom Horner. After we called, they captioned some of his YouTube videos. However, the most recent videos are not captioned. We received reports that his TV ads were not captioned, although others say that some of them were.

SLAG HEAP: Awarded to those who, in spite of evident access to funds and resources, consistently did not make their materials accessible.
– All issue advertisers (those who launched ads for or against a particular candidate)
– DFL Party
– IR Party
– Independent Party

Did we leave anyone out? Send us your vote!

Written by jwyant

November 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

The Spirit of Laws Past

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Technically, candidates for federal office don’t have to follow the law requiring captioning of all TV, internet and radio ads. And, technically, the candidates don’t have to caption anything if they post a transcript somewhere nearby. That said, here’s a quick recap on some of our more entertaining races:

Michele Bachmann: If you go to her YouTube channel, you can read a rough (e.g., not always verbatim) transcript below each ad. Simply click the “more info” link for the full text. However, the ad posted on her own website is not captioned and provides no such link to more information.

Tarryl Clark: Unfortunately, Bachmann’s challenger doesn’t even reach this level of accessibility. Her video page on her website and YouTube channel do not provide any captions or transcripts.

Erik Paulsen: We’ve talked with this campaign several times. They’ve posted a number of TV ads, all uncaptioned. The reposted ads on YouTube also do not contain either captions or a transcript.

Jim Meffert: Paulsen’s challenger has been aggressive about using social media tools to court voters. With a smaller budget, they have not had any TV ads to date, but have posted quite a few videos on their YouTube page – with no captions or transcript.

Tim Walz: Earlier we posted kudos for Walz for captioning a TV ad. But other viewers told us that some of his other ads were not captioned. Such conflicting information highlights the need for more feedback from all of you out there! All of his TV ads are posted on his website. They are not captioned, but, as his staff pointed out, they provide a link (scroll below the video) on the video page to downloadble pdfs of all of their transcripts. The YouTube channel does not have such a set of links. Walz is doing more than most, but requiring a pdf download remains far from ideal.

Randy Demmer: Walz’s challenger is not providing any sort of accessibility to the videos on his website or YouTube channel. We are still waiting to hear back from the staff.

Written by jwyant

October 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Weekend’s Wall of (dis)Honor

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These five candidates aired multiple uncaptioned ads over the past few days:

Michele Bachmann
Tarryl Clark
Mark Dayton
Tom Emmer
Erik Paulsen

Technically, of these five candidates, only Emmer is in violation of the state law requiring captioned ads. Candidates for Federal office (Bachmann, Clark, and Paulsen) are not bound by the law. Dayton, because he does not receive public financing, is also not bound.

Bachmann just reported $10M in donations, and yet she apparently can’t afford captioning. The others don’t have as much cash, but they are still missing out on an opportunity to get their message to a significant audience.

Written by jwyant

October 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm

MNF Ads – Dayton & Walz yes, Bachmann no

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That was a tough game. So many woulda shoulda couldas… if only Farve had thrown that slant pass to Harvin just a little lower…

It’s the same with captioning. We saw ads by Dayton and Walz that were captioned, and one by Bachmann that wasn’t. There may have been other ads that we didn’t see. If you saw any, please send us an email with the specifics!

PS – remember, if a candidate receives public funds he or she MUST caption their ads. Dayton does not receive funds, so he is not legally obligated to caption. But of course we think he should anyway πŸ˜‰

Written by jwyant

October 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

TV Ads Not Captioned

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We’re getting word that TV ads are not being captioned. Sherri noted that Emmer’s ad Saturday night (Oct 9) around 8:50 was not captioned. Rich noted that during a Twins-Yankee game, “the only [ads] that are captioned are by private groups criticizing a candidate. The candidate ads themselves (both parties for State or National offices) that I saw had NO CAPTIONS at all.”

When you see an ad, please shoot us an email with the key information:

  • candidate name
  • time
  • date
  • channel


Written by jwyant

October 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Emmer Captions Web Videos

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Emmer’s campaign has been working hard to catch up. The four most recent videos are now captioned. Kudos and keep up the good work!

Written by jwyant

October 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Otto Ads Captioned

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Rebecca Otto recently aired two ads and posted them on her website as well – both captioned. Like Ritchie (see the previous post), her staff clearly made an effort to make sure the online ads were captioned from the get-go. Way to go, Otto!

Written by jwyant

October 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

Ritchie Ad Captioned

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Mark Ritchie’s campaign announced a new ad on TV today – and the online version was captioned. Kudos to the Ritchie campaign! All too often, when the web version is captioned, it is days – even weeks – after the fact. Captioning takes time – and that time needs to be planned for when scheduling a production.

( is nonpartisan. We will issue kudos to any candidate who complies with the law.)

Written by jwyant

October 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

How You Can Help!

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Be A Watchdog

Do you see an ad on TV or on the internet that isn’t captioned or otherwise accessible? Let us know! Here’s how:

  1. If it’s a TV ad: write down the day, time, and television channel, in addition to who paid for the ad and on whose benefit. (Every ad must list in text on the screen who paid: β€œThis ad was produced by Minnesotans for Long-Lived Loons,” or β€œI’m [candidate name] and I approve of this message.”
  2. If it’s on the internet, copy the website’s URL.
  3. Email the information to us at

If you see an ad that IS captioned, we want to know about it, too! We’ll send the candidate a congratulatory note, and we encourage you to do the same.

After the elections, we’ll compile all of the data and present a report that details who captioned their ads and who didn’t, as well as who accepted training from us and worked to improve their ads’ accessibility.

Written by jwyant

October 5, 2010 at 9:01 am

Posted in Captioning

Tagged with ,

The UpTake takes on Candidates for not captioning

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The UpTake recently posted a video exposing the fact that several major candidates signed forms stating that they would caption their ads in exchange for receiving public financing, then not following up.

(Scroll down to see the transcript)

As a demonstration of how fast news moves, Horner’s campaign recently released a captioned version of their latest online ad. Emmer’s campaign says they will update their videos as soon as “tonight.”

Written by jwyant

October 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm

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