News translation and translation flows

First, a few theoretical aspects will require consideration. Since this article is concerned with news translation, and with the reasons that lie behind the decision to translate or not to translate particular aspects of political information, both the general characteristics of news translation and the notion of “translation flows” will be examined in the following section.

Characteristics of news translation

Research has shown that translation within the realm of the mass media is quite different from “translation proper”, as defined by Jakobson (quoted in van Doorslaer, “The double extension” 181). The reason for this appears to be rooted in three distinctive features of the international news production process. First, it is often the case that news articles are based on multiple (written and oral) sources (ibid.). This makes it difficult if not impossible to speak about source texts as such. Indeed, Bassnett and Bielsa argue that in the context of international news any distinction between source and target texts “ceases to be meaningful” (11). Second, any number of people might contribute to the development of a news article, from foreign correspondent, news agency reporter, editor and subeditors. This not only complicates the attribution of responsibility for a particular feature of an article to an individual actor, but also raises questions about differing, maybe even conflicting motives that underpin the work of these actors. Finally, we need to bear in mind the strong correlation between journalistic and translational tasks. Since newspapers are not only “moral institutions” but also businesses, the selection and exclusion of topics has also been influenced by journalistic considerations such as spatial restrictions and costs. Within this article the focus lies on the cooperation between the Manchester Guardian editor and his foreign correspondents. In light of the characteristics of news translation, it is thus crucial to keep in mind that these actors might not always have shared values and beliefs about what should be reported about the Third Reich and how it should be reported. Moreover, the production of international news within the Manchester Guardian clearly involved more than the above-mentioned actors. In particular the role of news agencies such as Reuters is noteworthy. They and other actors are mentioned in passing, although the scope of this article precludes a more rigorous analysis of their contribution at this point.

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