When the first cases of COVID 19 hit the United States, people became scared and confused. They looked to our government to answer any questions surrounding the pandemic. Minnesota’s government responded quickly to these questions, however they communicated this information in English and only English.
In Minnesota, there are approximately half a million people that speak a language other than English. This means that 500,000 Non-English Speaking Minnesotans were not getting the information they needed in order to keep them and their families safe.
We wanted to find a way we could get this information to the Non-English Speaking people of Minnesota. CTV North Suburbs partnered up with TPT Now to provide simultaneous translations of our Governor addresses in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali in a LIVE atmosphere.
TPT Now is a channel with Twin Cities Public Television, PBS, that provides real-time, emergency alerts in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali. By broadcasting in multiple languages, including English, TPT NOW helps boost community resiliency with health, safety, weather, traffic and emergency content for diverse audiences.
There was a long time fellowship between TPT and CTV that was fostered in the community media center space. TPT Now came with the connection to the Governor’s office, and CTV brought the technical know-how to the partnership. Together, we were able to provide Non-English Speakers with crucial information from the government in their native language.
First, we needed to find translators for the three languages we were going to translate to. We hired a Somali translator, a Spanish translator, and a Hmong translator to translate the Governor’s address in real time. In their separate rooms, each translator had their own teleprompter and ear piece. As they translated the speech, it was broadcasted to not only our Somali, Latinx, and Hmong partners, but also our social media.
There was a lot of technical expertise that went into this task. We used a production switcher and audio DSP to create multiple audio and video feeds. The video feeds and different audio mixes were then combined into SDI signals that contained a video and multiple audio channels.
These signals are then routed throughout the facility to a dual channel encoder. Here they are separated into different A/V streams with their correct video and audio. Finally, they are sent to our LAN for additional monitoring and recording as well as to our WAN for distribution to interconnected cable partners.
We translated 8 videos using this process. We reached a total of 99,987 people, and the average reach for one video was 12,499 people. Over 500 people shared the videos which resulted in 39,327 total engagements.
Our highest performing video was the Governor’s address regarding looting and violence in the Twin Cities on May 29, 2020. This video reached 40,843 people and had 11,332 total engagements. Over 200 people and organizations shared this video on their platforms including La Raza 95.7 and BEC-TV.
CTV hopes we can continue to work with communities of color, Non-English speakers, and any other overlooked groups in Minnesota. We know there is a lot more work to be done related to translating government information for Non-English speakers, and we want to be a part of those changes.