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If Stephen Colbert Makes Fun of Your Transcription, You Need a New Provider

By February 20, 2013September 4th, 2021No Comments

It’s easy to focus on the benefits of transcription, the ways it can help your business, or why it’s essential for your industry in general, but we often forget about the effects of poor transcription. Stephen Colbert does a phenomenal job in reminding us, by pointing out some heavy flaws in the transcript of a speech given by Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio. The following cautionary tale shows us that even Washington is not immune to poor transcription (or the consequential jokes by Colbert).

Rubio’s recent speech to Spanish speakers of the U.S. followed the standard procedure by providing two transcripts: one in English and one in Spanish. However, Colbert was mystified when the Spanish transcript was four minutes longer than its English counterpart and sought them out on the ABC news site to solve the mystery.

Was Rubio’s speech longer than what the English-speaking public received? Actually, no! When translated, the Spanish transcript reads something like this: “I’m at the body in the homeless in August to pay thugs and be asked what’s the Hamas. You’ve got the April not because I was of them. I’ll get the paneling and soaps.” Was it a bad translation, was Rubio speaking gibberish, or did something else happen altogether?

It seems there was a technical error. A computer was transcribing the speech phonetically in Spanish, but nobody switched the setting to Spanish while doing so, and nobody else caught the error until it made national news. So, we ended up with, “sort of course the human feces predicament to we have been championed,” while Rubio was in fact discussing student loan debt. Colbert calls the transcription something akin to, “Alan Ginsburg on Peyote,” and here at TranscribeMe, we have to agree!

The Colbert Report- Feb. 13, 2013- joking about Marco Rubio's speech transcript

As funny as this awful transcription is, we can learn a lot from it:

1) Never trust your transcription solely to a free computer program.
TranscribeMe uses a blend of speech recognition technology with real professional transcribers, followed by an intensive quality assurance process that guarantees you a 98%+ accuracy.

 2) Poor transcripts can make you the butt of a country’s jokes.
Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it can definitely hurt your credibility and in the end cost you even more time and money. Moreover, if your customers catch the error before you do, you could risk losing their business. Get your transcripts done right the first time and avoid the headaches.

 3) Never sacrifice quality for speed.
Sure, a computer might get you a transcript immediately, but as we learned, any simple oversight can snowball into something irreparable. At TranscribeMe, we typically get our transcripts done within 24-48 hours, even with multiple speakers, and with the quality you’re looking for.

Check out the full Stephen Colbert episode or skip to the 11:20 mark to watch the full Marco Rubio clip.