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Now that physical distance has been rendered meaningless by digital information, language is one of the last practical barriers in news consumption. News circulate across the globe instantly and it is the task of any responsible media to provide the information in the most accurate and localized way for every audience.

For foreign correspondents and editors with reporters dispersed around the world, this topic contains extra-literary implications. It is not only a matter of translating an article from one language to another caring for the grammar correction and precision of the content, but also of knowing how to tell a story in the cultural context of the destination country.

Let's take an example: a Belgian reporter is hired on a television newscast in Mexico after learning Spanish for several years. But it turns out that her classes were "Spain-Spanish" and she uses many idiomatic expressions that Mexicans will not understand. The same if she travels to Venezuela or Argentina. Spanish is officially spoken in 20 countries around the world (18 in America, 1 in Europe and 1 in Africa), with the obvious differences of idiosyncrasy that it implies. It is not surprising that the dubbing of movies and television series takes place in each country that shares the language.

As you can see, even in the same languages, what is ideal in a journalistic work is to handle the culturally adapted language. It is insufficient for the reporter to master a second language if she does not know how to transmit the news in the right way for the local audience.

It’s not just translation

A second language may indeed help a reporter to do his job when he is visiting another country for an event coverage or interviewing a foreigner at the radio station. But he will need to extremely specialize in localization of the target language (understood as the translation with cultural approach) if the goal is to permanently perform as a native-speaker journalist.

Mastering at least the English language will always be useful to carry out the journalistic activity, wherever the place of destination. However, it would be advisable to hire an interpreter who can transmit both sides of the message between sender and receiver, back and forth, especially when it comes to rare languages.

In addition to the fieldwork, which includes research and interviews, the journalist then faces the writing of his report, so he/she must be extremely careful with the minimum information error caused by the lack of full understanding of the language of origin. The same goes for the editors, information managers and everyone involved with the news. A small misinterpretation can lead to gigantic errors that end up even in defamation.

Another consequence is that the software could not work properly. For example, the Arabic word "الصحافة" is translated to English by as "The Press," connoting the collective news media, while Google Translate suggests "printing press" which could refer to the ink-transferring device.

Without the help of the translator, the strength of a character's message of politics or business will be lost thanks to a poor selection of words, as well as the impact of a story will be distorted.

That is why hiring a professional translator is the only solution that will allow the mass media and independent journalists to approach their readers, listeners or viewers. This professional will ensure that all journalistic works have the right approach and not just a literal translation with ambiguities or blunders.

After all, like journalism, interpreting and translating require years to master properly.




If you wish to receive a detailed offer or consultation on Wagner Consulting´s translation solutions, then please feel free to contact our Sales Team, who will gladly assist you.

Translation Division at Wagner Consulting
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US: (917) 725 3145 (Spanish speaking)
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