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Auteur: Daniel PERRIN

Co-Auteur(s): Maureen EHRENSBERGER-DOW, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, IUED

Translating the News: Internal and external multilingualism in the newsroom

Abstract/Résumé: Translating the News: Internal and external multilingualism in the newsroom Globalization and media convergence have given rise to novel forms of news networks and markets. Thus, an increasing amount of material in newsrooms originates from sources other than established news agencies. Recorded by amateurs or local media, useful source material such as video bites can contain utterances from all over the world in various languages, a diversity that poses increasing challenges for journalists and editors of foreign news. This paper addresses the question of how journalists cope with this linguistic diversity in their news production processes. Until recently, there has been relatively little research into the translation practices and strategies of socially powerful actors who are not educated as professional translators but who work between languages and therefore produce real life multilingualism. Even less research has been carried out in the area of working between languages during text production in the newsroom. In the course of such text production – or reproduction – source texts and other types of source materials are used in collaborative processes by journalists to produce target texts in standard languages and local varieties they consider appropriate for their audiences. The question of interest in this presentation is what exactly journalists do if the incoming texts or other source material are in a different language (external multilingualism) and variety (internal multilingualism) from the target language of the outgoing texts – or sometimes even in languages the journalists themselves are not familiar with or can hardly understand. We explore whether institutionalized translation policies guide journalistic practices in such circumstances or whether journalists develop and rely on their own translation strategies. The mixed-method approach of our research combines newsroom ethnography with in-depth analysis of writing processes, workplace conversations and interviews with media management and policy makers. In the presentation, we draw on data from four television newsrooms in Switzerland, a highly multilingual country. Our findings indicate that translation is involved with every aspect of news production, including how journalists handle their source materials, their target texts, and their social environment. However, translation in the newsroom is based primarily on individuals’ implicit and tacit knowledge, not on explicit organizational knowledge. We conclude by suggesting how insights from this research can be generalized and contribute to increasing organizational knowledge of media companies.