Journalism and translation

Luc van Doorslaer
Table of contents

Particularly with regard to foreign news gathering and foreign news production, the relationship between language (knowledge) and journalism has often been stressed and described in the margins of linguistic (discursive, stylistic, pragmatic) or communication-oriented research. However, the interest for the specific position of translation, both as a process and a product in this interaction, is relatively new. Within the broader research field on translation and/in the media, various subfields can be discerned. Referring to several recent publications and making use of quantitative data, van Doorslaer 2009 shows that this research domain largely focuses on the subfields of audiovisual translation, voiceover and dubbing and subtitling. The journalistic aspects of media translation as well as the position of translation in day to day journalistic work are not an explicit object of study in those subfields. In the wake of the Warwick project on ‘Translation in Global News’, however, more and more interest has arisen for news translation and other aspects related to news and translation. Valdeón (2015) provides an overview of the past fifteen years of ‘Journalistic Translation Research’. The most prominent publications of the Warwick project itself are the conference proceedings in Conway & Bassnett 2006 and above all Bielsa & Bassnett 2009, the final publication to issue from the project. It explores in particular the role of translation in so-called global news agencies (mainly AP, Reuters and AFP) as well as concrete translated news texts. Despite tendencies towards globalization and harmonization, the increasing role played by English language and even the dominance of Anglophone writing models (shorter and more direct texts), there still is an important variety in the use of different framing and translation practices, strategies and values. This variety can sometimes be traced back to the national/regional origins of the news agency or to marked choices with regard to content, for instance in the case of the ‘alternative’ IPS news agency. Since the publication of the famous MacBride report criticizing the very imbalanced news circulation in the world and the media exposure of the ‘elite countries’ (MacBride 1980), new balances were established. Nevertheless, a complex mixture of power relationships (continental, national, linguistic, political and ideological) determines important decisions and choices regarding news selection, news translation and news editing. Christina Schäffner (2008) analyzes a corpus of translated journalistic texts and political quotes that were recontextualized for the home audience (without any reference to the translation act). She shows that institutional and ideological conditions of translation production are of decisive importance in these cases of political journalism and political communication. In his case study on the Spanish BBCMundo, Roberto Valdeón (2008) discovers an underlying difference in status between Anglophone and Spanish-speaking cultures, where the importance of the former over the latter is often accentuated in the news coverage. The journalistic selectivity visible in the appropriation, translating and editing of certain materials influences the framing of world perception. Luc van Doorslaer (2009) reveals a clear correlation between the news agencies used as main sources and the countries dealt with in international news coverage. Newsrooms in Belgium mainly using AP for example, write more about the USA. Those who mainly use AFP, write much more about France. Though world news agencies may present themselves as ‘global’ nowadays, they obviously do not deny their roots. News agencies inevitably include norms linked to their national origins and this fact is reflected in their selection and de-selection principles as well as in their framing approach. So it remains an unsolved question “whether they have sufficiently disengaged themselves from their national and/or regional base in their news production” (Bielsa & Bassnett 2009: 49).

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Bielsa, Esperança & Bassnett, Susan
2009Translation in Global News. London: Routledge. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Conway, Kyle
2008“A cultural studies approach to semantic instability: The case of news translation.” Linguistica Antverpiensia New Series 7: 29–43.. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
Conway, Kyle & Bassnett, Susan
(eds) 2006Translation in global news: proceedings on the conference held at the University of Warwick 23 June 2006. University of Warwick. http://​www2​.warwick​.ac​.uk​/fac​/arts​/ctccs​/research​/tgn​/events​/tgn​/translation​-in​-global​-news​-proceedings​.pdf [Accessed 3 May 2010].Google Scholar
Davier, Lucile
2014 “The paradoxical invisibility of translation in the highly multilingual context of news agencies.” Global Media and Communication 10(1): 53–72. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
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2006“Differences in News Translation between Broadcasting and Newspapers: A Case Study of Korean-English Translation.” Meta 51 (2): 317–327. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
MacBride, Sean
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Schäffner, Christina
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2012 “Rethinking Transediting.” Meta 57(4): 866-883. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
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2006“Translation through Interpreting: A Television Newsroom Model.” In Translation in global news: proceedings on the conference held at the University of Warwick 23 June 2006, Kyle Conway & Susan Bassnett (eds), 59–71. Coventry: University of Warwick.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Valdeón, Roberto A.
2008“Anomalous news translation. Selective appropriation of themes and texts in the internet.” Babel 54 (4): 299–326. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Valdeón, Roberto A
2015 “Fifteen years of journalistic translation research and more.” Perspectives 23(4): 634-662. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
van Doorslaer, Luc
2009“How language and (non-)translation impact on media newsrooms. The case of newspapers in Belgium.” Perspectives 17 (2): 83–92. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
2012"Translating, Narrating and Constructing Images in Journalism with a Test Case on Representation in Flemish TV News.” Meta 57(4): 1046-1059. DOI logoGoogle Scholar

Further reading

Bielsa, Esperanca
2007“Translation in Global News Agencies.” Target 19 (1): 135–155. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Orengo, Alberto
2005“Localising News: Translation and the ’Global-national’ Dichotomy.” Language and Intercultural Communication 5 (2): 168–187. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schäffner, Christina
2005“Bringing a German Voice to English-speaking Readers: Spiegel International.” Language and Intercultural Communication 5 (2): 154–157. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Valdeón, Roberto A
2005“The CNN en Español news”. Perspectives 13 (4): 255–267. DOI logoGoogle Scholar