Prepared by the researcher : Hind Saad AL Rashid – Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia
Democratic Arabic Center
Arabic journal for Translation studies : Fifth Issue – October 2023
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link
This study explores the social and institutional practices of news translation and how the key players in newsrooms of the two media institutions, the BBC and Al Arabiya, understand and practice translation, specifically, the translation of news reports tackling Islamist discourse. It endeavors to present answers to the study questions. In this study, interviews were been conducted with the staff of BBC and Al Arabiya. The nature of the interviews that we conducted on BBC and Al Arabiya was mostly qualitative. the study approached the following resultsTranslation of the news does have a huge impact on the news that is being posted in different regions. This is why BBC and Al Arabiya have set standard operating procedures for the translation of the news. They both have their own set of guidelines and staff from both organization follows those guidelines. When it comes to Islamist discourse while translating from Arabic to English and English to Arabic both BBC and Al Arabiya are very careful in posting any of these things. They ensure that the material they post is standardized and must meet all the required guidelines to ensure impartiality so that religious sentiment should not get hurt through offending Islamic values, The news team adopts different strategies and practices as per the situation environment to make content interesting but the important thing that BBC and Al Arabiya ensure is that they are as per the guidelines set by them. This ensures the quality of the translated content. They also have language experts in their teams who have expertise in multiple languages. These language experts do not only help in the translation process but also help in language management during the translation process.
The translation is a process of rewriting. The translator’s work becomes vital because, as Brisset (2003) points out, translation is based on selective strategies, just like writing, but, unlike paper, the selection is doubly conditioned. Material is translated from its source by journalists and all the terminologies in it. Then while writing the piece, they crack or explain facts about one culture in a manner that viewers of another culture may comprehend and appreciate.
As per Darwish (2004) translation depends on many factors. Situations and environment can affect the whole translation process. Depending upon the situation and environment translator may change the locations, linguistics, and cultural and ideological temporal. This is something that is being for the management of language. To do so the translator must have expertise in language as well as reasoning to do so. As mentioned above English reading audience from the western community might be different from the English reading community of Arabs and vice versa. So, while the translation taste of news is being done as per the target audience. This is how situations and environments can affect the translation process. For example, if a message is translated from Arabic to English by Al Qaida. Many things are needed to be changed and it is being adjusted as per the international laws related to counter-terrorism. Darwish (2004) also mentions that they can also affect the nature, focus, quality, and pace of knowledge that is being transferred. This can affect the whole translation strategy in positive or negative ways. It is very much possible that these variables can affect the accuracy and precision of the story and produce a reconstruction of an already constructed story. Now, this is not a good precedent when it comes to the translation of the news. Because this might not be good for the audience and can affect the information that is being provided to the audience through the news and must be avoided.
Biesla & Bassnett (2009) states that translation is an important factor when it comes to news in the international arena. Because if local news is being delivered in the international arena, most of the time source of this news is in the local language. That is being needed to be translated into another language to disseminate it in the international arena. To do so news agencies have hired researchers who focused on having mapped local and global networks of journalists. This helps them understand how to gather the news, how to distribute it and how to do the translation this news. This network is very important in the translation of news worldwide and it contains experts from different field who helps in achieving accurate translation considering all factors. Every news institution has gathered its network who complete all the work.
This study examines in social and institutional practices in texts related to Islamist discourse used in news of the two media institutions, the BBC and Al Arabiya, It also highlights the actual practices used in news translation concerning text selection, news input, and the agents involved. In the era of global communication developing connecting the whole world, translation is a key player in interaction.
Questions of the study
What are the social and institutional practices in texts related to Islamist discourse in news of the two media institutions, the BBC and Al Arabiya?
- 1. What are the actual practices used in news translation concerning text selection, news input, and the agents involved?
- 2. How do the translation beliefs in news institutions influence the translation practices and translation strategies in these news reports?
- How do agents in authority decide whether and how to use translation in these reports?
Objectives of the Study
- To discover effect does translation have on the representation of Islamist discourse in news reports of BBC and Al-Arabiya.
- To find out the actual practices used in news translation concerning text selection, news input, and the agents involved.
- To discover the translation beliefs in news institutions influence the translation practices and translation strategies in these news reports.
In this study, interviews were been conducted with the staff of BBC and Al Arabiya. The nature of the interviews that are conducted on BBC and Al Arabiya was mostly qualitative. In these interviews, it is been tried to understand the complete translation process in BBC and Al Arabiya. Right from the very start till the ending. Which staff is involved in this translation process? How does it start? Who keeps a check on this processed and how it was completed? What are the factors that are been considered in these translations? What are the guidelines that are been set by BBC and Al Arabiya? How do they follow those set guidelines? Therefore, by understanding this process, we will be in a better position to understand the effect of translation in the representation of Islamist discourse. These interviews involve questions related to what actual practices they do in the newsroom. Because sometimes things look different from the outside but once you have information from the inside it is a different story. Text selection is also another critical matter that is been tried to investigate through these interviews. There are many persons involved in the translation of news. Therefore, we required exact information that how many persons are involved. What are their roles and responsibilities?
The Process of News Making and Translation
This section highlights some activities that inform the news-making process and translation practices in the BBC and Al Arabiya media institutions. The media institutions source their news reports from diverse sources. It includes other international or regional media institutions and individuals providing exclusive news to the BBC and Al Arabiya. Al Arabiya emphasizes exclusive stories, which assist in marketing the channel worldwide.
Social media also play a significant role as a source of news. Therefore, the different possible sources of information create the need to ensure the accuracy of the authorities. It is achieved through cross-referencing; whereby the media institutions provide that certain news items be backed up by at least two sources that agree on the facts surrounding the news event. In the case of BBC Arabic, cross-referencing is rooted in the need to be the most accurate Arabic channel instead of being the fastest channel to provide information to the viewers. Interviewer #16, a translator and journalist at BBC Egypt, explained:
As per Al Arabiya interview #13, this is relevant to the policy that organizations do not depend on only one source concerning certain news, and we have to have agreement from more than one source. Two sources at least should post the same news. The only case we depend on one source is if the source is a BBC correspondent. I consider validity granted if BBC Arabic or English service correspondent reports because our reporter is considered our eye and my body in the place where events occur.
The Al Arabiya TV channel has to ensure that such stories are published in Al Arabiya English since the institution competes with other media institutions to report exclusive stories. It creates the need for closer integration to have a competitive edge over other media institutions through exclusive stories. Interviewer (Al Arabiya # 11) the chief editor of the Al Arabiya English website indicates:
“When I first was assigned in Al Arabiya English, I told the floor that our top priority is to advertise Al Arabiya, we are the international arm of Al Arabiya, we try to translate and publish whatever Al Arabiya gets as exclusive”.
The interview showed the importance of translation in marketing the channel’s identity internationally. Most importantly, it asserted the role of Al Arabiya English in spreading Al Arabiya Arabic globally. It also indicated that their attribution would be more authentic since the news was translated in Al Arabiya and published on its panel before it reached the news agencies and providers.
Nevertheless, interviewee #11 acknowledged that Al Arabiya English borrows content from international media institutions such as Reuters or the BBC, especially stories in English since people perceive the international agencies as accurate and credible. The 30% original content is use to create the channel’s angle of the news event and enhance relevance to the audience. The 30% initial input by Al Arabiya English is also exclusive since the content is not cited from other media institutions. The 30% input is essential in the news-making process. These sentiments are voiced by Al Arabiya #11 as follows:
“Our goal is to translate 70% of Al Arabiya’s original content. There is no problem for us in taking original English news from, for example, Reuters since it is an international agency with accuracy and credibility” (Al Arabiya #11).
In Al Arabiya Arabic and English news websites, in many cases, the two versions of the news report would have almost identical texts, but they attributed sources to different writers. The Arabic website attributes the report to a journalist at Al Arabiya who appeared to be a TV newsroom member, not a journalist working for the website desk. The English website claimed the team produced the report, but they attributed the information to Reuter’s writer because the journalists built the news according to this source.
Journalists are the key players in news translation who select the information that needs to be translate; they determine what translation practices to adopt and how well these adopted practices are adhere to. Translation agents in news institutions can be categorized as journalists, translators, newsgathering agents, editors, and news production agents. News institutions are sources of information that have bureaus worldwide and provide news to mainstream media entities. News institutions carry out translations of their news. However, the meaning of some words may be lost in the translation process, and this requires the journalists and news editors to be careful while translating so they make the news reports fluent and catchy for all recipients.
According to Hernandez Guerrero (2019), it is evident that sometimes the copy editors would not see or sense that they were editing translated texts rather than original English texts. Interviewee #16 supports this view, one of Al Arabiya’s journalists and translators, who described her role as translation and news writing. She advocates her translation, saying that being a news writer and at the same time, doing the translation by herself makes the production “more visible” from Arabic into English. The translation process requires many skills, including journalistic skills, research skills, and bilingual competency. This interview and observing the general practice on the floorshow us the roles of journalists and translators somehow overlap as the translator must represent the institution’s angle in the translated text. Interviewee #16 argues that this calls for researching the background information of the translated texts and the perspectives of global agencies:
In their work, journalists in BBC are expected/required to follow the guidelines presented in the BBC Editorial guide. The guide specifies that journalists in the BBC are expected to apply impartiality when dealing with controversial subjects, ensure careful consideration where strong language is used and uphold sensitivity during coverage of tragic events and their anniversaries. The institution also discourages the inclusion of materials that encourage crime and supports impartiality and accuracy while reporting war, terror, and emergencies. In writing about terror, journalists must maintain objectivity to enable the audience to assess such events individually. On religious matters, BBC journalists are to uphold spiritual sensitivity by refraining from misrepresenting or abusing religious views and beliefs of individuals or a religion (BBC editorial guide on the BBC website, Section 10: Politics, Public Policy, and Polls, Section 11: War, Terror and Emergencies, and Section 12: Religious).
The guideline on “strong language” was applied in translation process since language is fluid and robust language has the potential to offend the audience. It is especially true where racist, abusive and pejorative terms which are unacceptable to the audience are used in news reports. The translating agent which is one of the interview respondents from BBC highlighted that translated content is sometimes modified due to legal issues, such as broadcasting materials that incite racism or violence. Interviewee BBC #18 adds:
“News intuitions are not here to make judgments; the translation has to be correct; it has to be what they say; organizations are not here to edit. However, the language of the report must adhere to the BBC guide section about using strong language. The translation should allow the audience in the Middle East to understand what is going on and eliminates the probability of confusing the audience, who may have confusion about the meaning of some terms”.
For example, one of the respondents from the BBC highlighted that the term ‘Arab Spring’, while referring to the political unrest in the Arab world, is majorly confused to mean climatic seasons. The interviewee justified this further, adding that:
“Arab uprising is a mutual term and it is an uprising against dictatorship, and this is what it is, and right now, when you speak to someone in the Middle East, they tell you what you mean with Arab Spring: it is autumn, it is Arab autumn. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that confusion may still occur when the BBC adopts external news providers’ news reports”.
The media plays a significant role as an influential political communicator. The media has access to a large audience very quickly. The various news-making and translation strategies adopted in media institutions, such as re-contextualization, additions, text rearrangement, the substitution of texts, and deletions, create news outputs that transmit implicit political ideologies. BBC maintains passiveness when reporting political discourse by adopting milder terms than “said” or “declared” such as “claim”. BBC World also supports caution when reporting news related to politics and political events, such as threatening messages from the al-Qaida group. Where Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda issue threatening letters, the BBC does not run or publish the news to prevent economic damage and spread terror. Instead, such messages are reported to security agencies to adopt appropriate action. This is also aligned with how the mass media influences and creates and maintains societal perspectives (Shojaei & Leheghi, 2012: 2535). Transmitting such threats would only reinforce the power of military or terrorist groups over the societal members. Refusing to publish such messages may be a security decision whereby the action serves security purposes by preventing damage to the economy and preventing the spread of terror.
Another factor that can condition the way news reports are translated is the time given to the translation agent to do the job. The translator does not have much time to do the translations; however, the limitations differ depending on the section. For example, translating for the international news section is not the same as solving for a supplement. According to Tania Molina (2009), a journalist for La Jornada, who belonged to the team of translators of the weekly supplement Masiosare, the translation of a supplement is closer to what a literary translation is since it is possible to have up to a week to present the translation of an article. On the other hand, Gabriela Fonseca and Pablo Biffi (2005), editors of La Jornada and Clarin’s international news section, reiterate the accelerated pace of work since the translators only have three or four hours to translate an article, regardless of its extension.
As per information provided by interview #16, BBC has different teams while translating from English to Arabic and translating from Arabic to English. Team members working for BBC are experts in both English and Arabic languages. Now the reason behind different teams is that for different types of content, different types of teams are required. So, BBC has a different team for translating routine news content. They have expertise in this field. Similarly, the sports, humor, and entertainment reports they have different agents to translate the news. The reason behind these different teams is that they are different subjects. For translation along with expertise in the language, the translator must be able to understand the context of the news instead of just literal translation of the news.
Interviewee#14 from BBC says that this channel is being viewed worldwide. It has a very huge audience in both western countries as well as in Arab countries. So, BBC Arabic produces and translates news for its Arabic audience and BBC English produces and translates news for its English audience. So, to do that while translating news from Arabic sources into English BBC ensures that all basic guidelines are being met. BBC ensure impartiality as well they have to assure that news that is being aired is as per the law of the country it is being aired. So, this translation of Islamist discourse from Arabic to English becomes tricky. As local laws or audiences might not accept the exact literal translation of the news and this is why some adjustments are being made to ensure that news is per law and does not hurt the sentiments of its target audience.
As per the Al Arabiya style book (2013), Integrity and global values bound Al Arabiya journalists and journalistic practices to protect the profession from political bias and social intolerances. The institution is committed to the principle of the right to know, whereby Al Arabiya is keen to provide all parties with an opportunity to express and present individual positions on matters of interest. The principle of responsibility also binds the institution, which calls for a balance between the right to provide information, news, and expression of opinion and legal, moral, and ethical responsibility. Al Arabiya emphasizes professional integrity by refraining from promoting individual positions or positions of specific political forces. The control principle calls for Al Arabiya to seek the truth without restrictions or dictation. The institution emphasizes sensitivity to the audience by scrutinizing materials with content on violence, incitement, and religious or ethnic discrimination. The intellectual property principle encourages journalists to acknowledge and acquire permission from external sources of news.
These guidelines of Al Arabiya are also structured to facilitate a balance between news making and circulation of information, expression of opinions, and the legal responsibilities and moral and ethical limits. The guideline is informative and provides detailed examples of some of the championed writing styles, values, and ethics. Al Arabiya staff must uphold professionalism by avoiding using their positions to promote personal views or the views of selected political forces.
Alghamdi (2015) stated that Al Arabiya journalists must ensure sensitivity to the target audience, specifically the Arab viewer. Therefore, journalists must deal with news reports that incite content of starting violence and hatred or religious and ethnic discrimination, paying attention to the viewer’s sensitivity, and upholding the viewers’ rights to information. The inability to use al-Qaeda’s reports, translations, and voice are grounded on the fact that statements by al-Qaeda do not reflect the professional ethics which Al Arabiya abides by and most likely prey on the audience’s emotions or Muslim sentiments as opposed to providing accurate news accounts.
This argument is very strong that exclusive content attracts viewership and readership. As per interviewee #13 from Al-Arabiya complete reports such as the tapes by al-Qaeda, following 9-11 events, have additional attractive aspects such as originality due to the appearance and voices of the organization’s members. However, it is essential to note that broadcasting such tapes would draw attention to the prevailing political ideologies in the news channel. Therefore, where the channel aims to provoke sentiments, the sentiments must match the channel’s political agenda of supporting or opposing certain ideologies. He also says that: news institution receives many tapes ourselves, but Al Arabiya took a strategy not to publish whatever we have in our hands. If it’s worthy and it falls under what we categorize as an event, then we deal with it. In case it expresses an event or news, like a threat of a coming operation with exact place and dates, we will only select this information from the tape to broadcast. Unlike our competitors who broadcast all the tapes, talk about it in their prime news, and then play it recorded for the whole day.”
Interviewee #11, who serves as the chief editor at the Al Arabiya English website, emphasized this. Furthermore, the interviewee accentuated that Al Arabiya adopts a principle that classifies terrorism as unfavorable. He specifically cited internal activities in Arab countries where political and Islamist groups try to impose their political ideologies on the masses through violence. This ideology is reflected through the news language adopted. In this case, the choice of words is motivated by the institution’s doctrine, which changes the news perspective.
Moreover, the media institutions do not publish or cite Al-Qaeda publications or translation materials. It is founded on the editorial guidelines which prevent the adoption of materials from Jihadi groups. It is also upheld by the interviews from Al Arabiya, #3 & #13. They dismissed using Al-Qaeda translations or reports from Al-Qaeda media affiliates despite their accurate English translations. These sentiments are majorly based on the precaution by media law against promoting terrorism.
In such scenarios, journalistic discourse justifies the avoidance to use the term “terrorism” as the actions are viewed as patriotic actions. This is explained further by Al Arabiya#11: “We have the same principle which classifies terrorism as negative, first of all, classify violence as terrorism, and second classify terrorism if received by people from the region as something negative. In the Palestinian case that the violence there is not terrorism and this is according to the international law it is federation war, patriotic actions or so the journalistic discourse justifies it. But for the internal actions in Arab countries that some groups have a political ideology and want to impose its ideology by violence we call it by its name which is terrorism even the word “terrorism.” In the first five years we used to call it operations, al Qaeda performed operations in Riyadh, Tabuk, Egypt or Algeria we don’t use the word terrorism we rely heavily on people to use it. It has become a common word everyone uses, not only us; everyone calls it terrorism attacks; theoretically, we used to avoid using the word terrorism not to classify it, but now people accept it as a fact, and they use the word even all different parties on the political landscape.”
Al Arabiya English website interviewee # 10, a journalist, views the translation process from a comprehensive perspective whereby translation from Arabic to English is not considered as a literal translation of a news story but also as an actual adaptation of news in its true sense given the differences between English and Arabic. In contrast, translation to English requires maintenance of simplicity and straightforwardness (Khan et al., 2019). However, Friss (2015) argues the assertion that the news channel does not view violent activities in regions such as Palestine as terrorism implicitly communicates the channel’s political standing about such occurrences within Palestine. This argument is augmented by the Al Arabiya’s stand on the Syrian uprising, whereby the organization infrequently uses the picture of Bashar Al Assad, the president of the Syrian regime, on its screens. While this may be viewed as an insignificant occurrence, failure to post the image of the regime’s leader implicitly communicates rejection of the regime’s legitimacy. It displays the political standing and ideology of the channel to the viewers and readers.
As per interviewee #11, the content that is being chosen for translation is also very important. It is not a good idea to translate every piece of news. The news that is being translated must be as per the taste of its target audience. For Example, if the news is related to any local legislation of any community in the UK. There is no point in translating it to Arabic and presenting it to an Arab audience after following all the guidelines. Because the Arab audience might not be interested in that news at all. However, if the news is related to visas for Arab citizens in the UK. This news must be translated and presented to the Arab audience as they would like to have this information. To choose which content to translate it is critical to understand the preference of the local audience. News is presented to editors by the researcher for translation. Then the editor decides which news is to be translated. Then once the news for translation is selected it is sent to the online translator for translation and all the required guidelines are being followed for translations.
When it comes to the translation of Islamist discourse, it is important to understand the type of news. Sometimes news only contains the facts and it just needed literal translation from one form to another. But on some occasions, it contains the viewpoint. Now while doing translation, it is also considered whose viewpoint is this. For example, in the case of Al Qaida it cannot simply do the literal translation as most of the time it contains threats that cannot be published as it is. Similarly, sometimes they contain materials that lead to the glorification of the terrorist activity. So, it is the duty of the news institution that they must omit or modify any such thing which leads to the promotion of terrorist activity. However, in some cases, it is important to do the literal translation of the viewpoint. For Example, If any high authority person such as Prime Minister or President issues a press release regarding some issues. It only requires the literal translation and no addition or deletion is required in such cases (#Al Arabiya 13). The interviewee further adds that apart from news, the content such as analysis or articles that are being translated from other news sources is of critical importance. Any such content is being chosen with great care. Any such article or analysis must be according to the preference of the target audience. If the content is related to Islamist discourse, for example, something related to Islam. It must be translated with great care and all the reference in it must be properly checked. As it involves religious sentiments, one wrong word can change the whole spirit of the article. To avoid doing this, the literal translation of the article must not be done. So that if it involves any spiritual point of view, it must not get disturbed. The tone of the message should remain the same in translation as well. Because in analysis or articles tone of the writer is very important. By doing all this Al Arabiya ensures the quality of translation for all of its viewers and readers.
Translational beliefs and Decision Making with Regards to Translation and News Making
It is important to note that the translation beliefs of the two media institutions do not differ much as the news-making and translation processes are majorly guided by the adopted guidelines whose views converge on essential matters, such as the use of strong language and sensitivity to the audience and reporting of terrorist activities. In Al Arabiya, translation practices are embedded in the initial news-making phases, especially the determination of content at the initial stage through news reports from the newsroom. This phase determines the main kind of reports produced, whereby preliminary news reports are directed to “put an event in its context and shed light on all of its aspects as a means of paving the way for coverage of the event later on” (Al Arabiya Style Guide, 2013). This practice implies a typical transformation process in news making whereby the media institution creates the way for coverage of a news event following ethics, political agendas, and viewer preferences. The media institution determines the inclusion and exclusion of content based on the selected texts for translation and adopted strategies in preparing the news report (Törnberg, & Törnberg, 2016).
In BBC, translation practices are also founded on the adopted guidelines. Interviewee #18, a voice-over journalist translator at BBC Arabic and TV, explains this:
“Journalistic translation is different from classic translation. Besides the journalist when he translates, he imposes the institution’s editorial policy, including accuracy, objectivity, and unbiased some institution would not mind this” (BBC #18).
It indicates the influence of adopted guidelines on the translation process and awareness of conformity to the policies by the translating agents in the institution. The institution can be said to be aware of the impact of translation practices on audience understanding of news reports. It is founded on the principle of avoiding misleading the audience. The institution calls for avoidance of reconstruction and staging to avoid confusing the audience.
It is also important to note that the translation process in both institutions occurs in a teamwork setting, the perspectives of individual team members differ across the institutions. Individual journalists in Al Arabiya are aware that translation occurs to provide news content which reflect Al Arabiya’s identity.
From the above description, this can be said that the changes that occur in the discursive material of the target text concerning its source text reflect a series of behavior patterns or norms linked to the temporal and sociocultural context where they originate. It means that a translation has its discursive structure, if it is not being done properly meaning could be changed. Due to the influence of linguistic models on the environment in which the target text is inserted, it is classified within a very different genre from the one which the source text was from. Therefore, translation is not considered more than one of the many stages in the production and dissemination of international information, that is, another form of textual manipulation. Consequently, although a translated opinion piece is a text that originates from another in a different language when it reaches the press environment, it becomes an autonomous text that performs a specific function within the space of the media.
Translation decisions in the newsroom of both institutions aren’t separated from the decisions taken regarding the news report as a whole. The news editors check the quality of the news report if it delivers the event and reflects the institution’s vision. Specifically, concerning the Islamist discourse, the news editors make sure that the translation within the news reports adheres to the global law encountering terrorism and the institution’s guidelines.
As per interviewee #12 from BBC, for taking any decision regarding the translation of a news report the guidelines play an important role. The news editor has to ensure that all the guidelines have been properly met before taking any decision regarding the translation of a news report. The legal aspect is very important as the laws are different in every country. It is needed to make sure that this news is per the law of the country where it is going to publish. Political and societal effects are also considered while making any such decisions. News must be as per the political environment and society environment of the place it is going to be published. For Example, you cannot run a report supporting homosexuals in any Arab country. Because this would not only be against the law but it will have a very strong reaction from the society too. Religious sentiments are also considered in all these decision-makings. Religion is a very sensitive topic for most people. So, BBC strictly follows the policy of not making any negative remarks regarding religion. So, this is a very critical thing when translating Islamist discourse into global news as translation might not be exactly as it can change the original meaning. So, a very careful draft is prepared while reporting on religious matters.
Interviewee # 16 from BBC says that along with taking decisions on the content of the news that is being posted, other decisions are needed to be made. It starts with the decision such as which news to post. Once this decision is made, the editor assigns the translation to the translator and their team. Now, this is such an important decision. It is very critical for BBC which person is translating which news. BBC has different teams for translation and along with language expertise they have expertise on different topics. As mentioned above they have a different team for sports or entertainment news etc. Depending upon the nature of the news a decision is being made that which translator or which team will translate this news. For religious matters, it is being ensured that translating team must have a complete understanding of the matter so that the originality of the news must not get affected.
It was a good chance I got to interview BBC #16 & #17 since they are Egyptian journalists coming from the BBC Middle East Bureau in Cairo. The two interviewees are titled journalists. They were in BBC London for training purposes. Their insight is effective in this study for many reasons, most importantly that both of them hold bachelor’s degrees in Translation, which is a rare case in both institutions. However, they took intensive journalism training courses in Egypt and the UK. Moreover, they share in the tasks of news gathering, translation, and news writing concerning violence in the Middle East. I gathered that they mainly contribute to the English and Arabic news concerning the Brotherhood. In their view news translation to other languages as resulting in an inevitable loss of charm, creating the need to assess the news and its impacts on the specific audience. This view may be attributed to the linguistic differences between languages such as English and Arabic and the voice or style adopted by the translator. Further, individual journalists indicate awareness of the translation practices in the media institutions, with some referring to the use of fixers or local translators who assist in simultaneous translations during interviews.
However, interviewees #12 & #13 from BBC English view the translation process as costly, especially when the institution has to look for translators to other languages such as Spanish or German. Nevertheless, they all agree that the translation process is essential in disseminating news to the target audience
Interviewee #11, who serves as the chief editor at the Al Arabiya English website says that he also faces a similar situation when has to translate or create content for Al Arabiya English. Apart from legal and social factors he also emphasizes the importance of balance in the news. Decisions regarding balance news are also very important as the story you are publishing should not be one-sided and it must contain the viewpoint of all the parties. News demands accuracy and it must be viable for all types of people who are reading it. This is the basic duty of journalism to report facts from all sides. So, he says that while publishing news the decision of making it balanced is a difficult aspect but also the basic requirement while creating news or translating it.
As per Al Arabiya interview # 16: “I specify what the lead is first. Sometimes, the editor on shift tells me which part to use as the lead. I usually paraphrase certain quotes and use the exact quote to back up the statement. I always check the videos in the Arabic news report to make sure the information is written accurately.”
Interviewee #13 from Al Arabiya states that for every step of the translation of news decision-making is required. Right from the very start till the news is being published and even after that regarding feedback. Decisions making is also done after feedback that which areas to improve. So, it’s an ongoing process. Al Arabiya is mostly popular in Arab countries. So, the decision they make regarding the content is as per the taste of their audience. They try to translate the material which they feel is as per the requirements of their local audience. Once it is done then all the already set guidelines come into play and they become rules for the decision-making for the rest of the steps.
It can be said that, in news translation, both the translator and the media have a kind of “discursive structure” that is reflected in the linguistic materiality of the target text. Such visibility could be identified by looking for specific manipulation traces. Vermeer speaks of an ethos of the translator, which is revealed to a lesser or greater extent in the linguistic materiality of the translated text depending on the skopos of the translation tasks. However, Vermeer’s ethos should not be confused with the argumentative ethos: the philosophy that Vermeer speaks of would be a way of naming how the translator makes himself evident within his text through the implementation of specific operational norms during the translation process.
However, such news may report where the target is not specified, as viewed as general empty threats. BBC 12#, a chief editor of BBC Arabic, explained:
“I give an example: Osama Bin Laden or AL Zawahiri coming out and say Al Qaeda group will take revenge for their martyrs by attacking Western interest in the whole Middle East. This is a revenge for the murder of AL Qaeda Organization martyrs who America attacked, this is a threat, but I can publish it because it is generally without specifications. Another sort of threat that is more specific can’t be published. Al Qaeda organization threats that it will target the US embassy in London or will poison the water of Thames River, in this case, the editorial guidelines instruct not to publish this but once we get to know this information to call security forces”.
Furthermore, the journalistic appointment methods of Al Arabiya mirror the political rhetoric of the organization. For example, Al Arabiya #13 argued that the institution did not select Persian-speaking journalists, who were more likely to accept pro-Iranian views and, as a result, would be more inclined to support the Iranian government and Iranian policies. This also serves to transmit the political ideology of the news organization with the policies implicitly followed by the Iranian government. It was very notable that Al Arabiya’s political perspective is tied to the institution’s support for the Bahraini government and Sunni Muslims across the Persian Gulf area. These sentiments are in line with the belief that terrorist acts committed inside Bahrain are retaliatory reactions to foreign hostility. This is something that raises questions about the neutrality of the Al Arabiya that sometimes they promote a certain viewpoint related to a certain sect.
Sometimes the personal views or the biases of the journalists can affect the news. To maintain the impartiality and balance of the news the focus must be on the content of the news while translating the news. By doing so the reputation of the news institution does not get affected and the trust in the news channel increases. This is the reason that BBC is being trusted worldwide and is being quoted by news channels all around the world. News editors interviewed in the fieldwork argue that they do not let our biases or prejudice affect the content of the reports. BBC #18 indicates that to make sure this does not happen it is also the duty of the editor and chief editor to review all the content material that is being created as well as the content that is being translated. This is all done to maintain the BBC’s balance, make sure that all voices are completely heard and their viewpoint is being properly expressed on their news channel (BBC #18).
Interviewee #15 from Al Arabiya says that to increase accuracy in the translation practices, sometimes the material is being translated from more than one journalist, even though this is a time-consuming thing and involves a lot of resources but it also helps in improving the quality of the content that is being translated. Also, it increases the competition among the journalists and they try to provide quality translation to the institutions. Maintaining quality in translation practice is a very important phenomenon. News is available worldwide and can be translated by any media outlet. What distinguishes Al Arabiya from other news channels is our quality of translation practices.
Darwish (2006) argues that the translation process depends on perspective, manipulation, and a shift in focus. The change in direction practically involves an alteration of view by linguistic manipulation and reconstruction. It is indicated by perspectives on some of the political activities and political unrest in the Arab region, such as Syria and Palestine. The agents involved in the translation and news-making process make changes to news text to either soften the language or make it less dynamic. A case has been observed in the BBC where an editor modified a news item on the Syrian situation, which has a perspective against the change in the Syrian regime. The modifications in Al Arabiya#10 text involved changing the Arabic text from referring to the person the article was based on as an “activist,” which the journalist who translated the report had maintained. The copy editor modified the term “activist” and referred to the individual as a “businessman”. Though the changes are justified by the guidelines of maintaining an unbiased perspective and upholding global media institutions’ professional journalistic writing style, the changes make the news institution remain passive to the human suffering in Syria. The media institutions could also be viewed as distancing themselves from the plight of the Syrian people, contradicting the media’s expectation as a source of light on the violation of human rights and war injustices. Al Arabiya #9, a senior journalist at Al Arabiya Arabic Web noted a significant issue is adopting the passive structure. This assertion was elicited by noticing that BBC English usually adopts a passive system as well, for example, using the term “attack” instead of “attacked” in terrorism news reports. However, BBC#5 interviewee noted that when translating such English texts into Arabic, the translator cannot maintain a passive structure as it would not make sense.
“This is a problem we meet. It is easy in English to use passive and leave me in a pickle. What I need to do, is how to translate it, they say attacked but this is not sensible in Arabic, it can be said in English: was attacked, but in Arabic, you need to mention the doer: a militant group or so. You exert more effort”. (BBC #5)
The linguistic structure is an important consideration during translation. Training is required to ensure the quality of creating the structure of the sentence. Lack of training can cause problems during translation. Sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar all plays important role in a sentence. All these things combine to form a correct sentence. Words written properly can create a difference in communication. So, BBC has a separate linguistic editor who ensures all of this is being done properly. (BBC#16)
Formatting / Rephrasing
While translating from English to Arabic or Arabic to English, formatting, and rephrasing is the very important task for the translation agents working for the news institution. Even though this might seem to be a very simple task but sometimes literal meanings are not enough and not choosing correct words while rephrasing in a different language can change the whole context of the news. As per interviewee #13 from Al Arabiya, all the work related to formatting and rephrasing must be done carefully by a person who has expertise in both languages. He or She must be able to understand the correct use of idioms and phrases from both languages in the right sense. Literal translation cannot be correct on many occasions especially if the original content news contains some idioms from the local language.
Al Arabiya also maintains a linguistic standardization style that dictates standardization in using common and proper names or foreign names. Under the foreign name’s guidelines, the names are viewed as untranslatable. Therefore, a transliteration strategy is adopted when using such names in translated texts. It is also important to note that though the translation process in both institutions sometimes occurs in a teamwork setting, the perspectives of individual team members differ across the institutions
In the same vein, Al Arabiya #3 clarifies that Al Arabiya gives the count of why they have an ‘in-house’ rephrasing process even if the message was originally done in English. It is significant because it demonstrates that you have sufficiently grasped the original material to write it effectively. Moreover, he argued saying the institutions provides a strong alternative to direct quotations, which should be utilized only in exceptional circumstances. For instance, a message that Osama Bin Laden conveys in English would still undergo the process of rephrasing.
The BBC relies on formatting and rephrasing the news regardless of the particular source. The institution is concerned with how they create their context. Saying it in the way it reflects the ideology, discourse, and context. It is all concerned about getting the source and developing a story. This is based on the fact that there are many sources, and each source would have its kind of translation depending upon their policy. This was echoed by the BBC Arabic website General Director #11:
We have two approaches to this issue. First, paraphrase the agencies. If it is the same source of information and I have access to it, I have to listen to it and not rely on any other agency. The other approach is to see what all agencies have said. Then we write our own story, the only exception is when the agency has an exclusive interview, but even in this case, we don’t have to rely on their interpretation; we only take the proper quote from the speaker, and we frame it according to the objective criteria of BBC. We cannot interpret nor paraphrase news according to BBC rules, but other agencies might do this. This is done to defend the BBC’s worldwide image while maintaining its editorial independence and integrity. It is not acceptable to rely on a rigid legal interpretation to justify allowing an advertisement or sponsor who violates the standards. Similarly, an inappropriate interpretation should not be used to ban anything that follows the rules’ objective.
Adding to the original text is a common practice among media institutions. Depending on the platform that the news will be published on, some of the agencies add. If the reporter wants to make the report more interesting, s/he might add some materials to the original text. In the BBC, some of the news conveyed in English might not be very interesting if there is no process of adding something to the original text. This was echoed by a journalist, who works at the BBC Arabic #14. The other reason behind adding material is to post the news in its full context so that it is easily understandable for the readers. For example, a local reader might understand the news published in the local language and understand its context. However, once it is translated to another language such as English some context might be needed to add to make it understandable to the readers reading it in English. This is being done to maintain the true spirit of the news.
“Yes, my main judgment depends on the Arabic because I am an Arabic person, and I can tell if this is interesting or not; sometimes I paraphrase others; I omit some ideas in the quotation. If I add something to the quotation, I will add some clarification. I insert a sentence to clarify and explain it to the Arabic reader, sometimes to explain some neighborhoods or districts and talk about this neighborhood. The district had a very strong conflict. This was not mentioned in English, for example, but I added it in Arabic like the case with Slovakia, or a name that can be different between different places like BBC writes it differently in Arabic than AFP or Reuters, so I try to make a standard, if possible, I take the way it was written before and use it again to produce the news report” (BBC. #19)
During the rephrasing, it is important to understand the context of the material you are translating. It should not be only the mere translation of the material. Word-by-word translation might not prove to be effective. To ensure a good level of rephrasing it is important that along with control over language, the translator must be able to understand the true nature of the article. This is something that plays a key role in paraphrasing. Formatting is also very important. It is not necessary that rephrasing and formatting are done by the same staff. For formatting computer expertise is required whereas for rephrasing language expertise is required. Once the material is rephrased by the translator or the journalist then it is formatted as per the standard and then it is published. Good material without formatting will not leave a good impression on the reader. (Al Arabiya #17)
BBC interview #10 states that rephrasing is the core duty in the translation of the news. This is the heart of the whole process of translation. Translation of the news could not be done without the rephrasing and formatting. Once formatting and rephrasing are completed then it is presented to the editor for approval. If changes are required it is again sent back to translating team to make the changes. Once the draft is approved by the editor and chief editor then it is allowed for publication.
Use of Quotations
As per BBC interviewee #18 who is also the editor of Arabic to English, BBC news quotes should appear in news pieces. A news source’s speech can be presented either in direct or indirect quotes, in which the news source’s speech is paraphrased. As per him, it is stated that direct quotations, as opposed to indirect quotes, boost both the liveliness and the faithfulness of tales to a more significant degree than indirect quotes, which is consistent with studies on quoting in non-narrative speech genres. Based on the widespread belief that direct quotations are accurate, direct quotes allow for more expressivity than indirect quotes while also preventing the potential of twisting and distorting a person’s original remarks. This assumption is supported by research. On the other hand, direct quotations are subject to debate as to their factual correctness and fidelity, yet, their suggested faithfulness is far more significant when compared to indirect paraphrases.
Direct quotes may be used to corroborate a news article’s news values, analyze issues, communicate subjective feelings, or increase the truth value of a news story. There are a variety of citation functions, which may be classified into two main categories: increasing the reader’s engagement with the news text and increasing the legitimacy of the news translation (Krieken, 2019). In addition to humanizing and bringing life to a news item, quotes may help to increase reader attention and engagement by bringing it to life. Quotations may also help strengthen the credibility of a news story by bringing clarity and authority to the content and stressing its impartiality, factuality, and honesty. When it comes to the current media environment, which is defined by dwindling newspaper readership on the one hand and public mistrust in the media on the other, both tasks are critical to the survival of the medium. To keep up with these developments, journalists must create content that is both fascinating and trustworthy in the eyes of their target audiences. (#BBC18)
Both English and Arabic news reports rely heavily on quotations. In many cases, the two versions provide exact quotes, although changes sometimes occur regarding the emphasis and placement of information. For example, the Arabic report may shorten direct quotations in some cases. In addition, it may use only extracts or words from a statement or an interview in the English report instead of quoting complete sentences. For example, I discussed with the BBC interviewees, this text which was one text from my initial date collected, the report: (Timbuktu’s Sidi Yahia Mosque ‘attacked by Mali militants’ published on 2nd July 2012) and its Arabic version: (Mali: Islamists break into Timbuktu’s Sidi Yahia Mosque, published on 2nd July 2012). I raised the point that the English report by framing the doers between inverted commas in the English report headline focused the attention on the doers which was not the case in the Arabic headline. The Arabic headline didn’t mention the doer. The interviewees justified this practice, saying it was an editorial decision depending on the readers’ point of interest. They dismissed any ideological motivation.
Therefore, if an organization, such as Al Arabiya, is funded by a state, it will have difficulties quoting Islamist militant groups and will translate the original text, and its original political discourse is diminished. Dargomar (2017) argues that state funding of a media outlet is used to control to advance the government’s political perspective and how it wants to be presented to the world. KSA wouldn’t like to be presented to the world as a country that promotes Islamists, this is reflected in Al-Arabiya’s strategy of diminishing the Islamist discourse, especially in its English reports. Again, the state’s relationship with the news-makers comes to play. The state’s relationship with the media outlet is also can be sensed in the BBC’s news discourse addressing the Islamists. Whether or not to report some events becomes essential for media institutions such as the BBC. This report which was published on 17 February 2011, was discussed with the interviewees: “Bahrain protests: Police break up Pearl Square crowd” and its pair Arabic report which was published on 18 February 2011, “Bahrain: police open fire on protestors trying to return to Pearl Square”. The BBC claimed to be neutral in reporting Bahrain citizens’ protests, the BBC news discourse referred to the protestors as “anti-government demonstrators.” However, the news report published on the BBC World Service and BBC Arabic was different, the Arabic news reporting was more compassionate with the protesters. This brings up the issue of “preferred” information depending on the target audience. The BBC World Service targets English speakers worldwide, and the BBC Arabic targets Arabic speakers. It determines how the news angles are created and determined. When the BBC World Service decides to limit its coverage or when the BBC Arabic website decides not to report certain events, consequences are far more complex than the simple linguistic preference of what word is neutral and biased. Every newsagent has a preferred reader or audience, and hence the newsagent will work towards impressing that reader in everything they decide to publish. In addition, the preferred audience has political agendas, which affects the translation choices on what to quote. Addressing what is preferred by one group more than the other is a form of business. For example, in this Arabic report about Bahrain protests, the report had added a subheading: “International Concern”, within this section, the report delivered the opinion of the Bahraini Shia head on the police break up, and it framed selective words from his opinion between the process which draws the Arabic reader to the discourse of his opinion. The issue of the preferred audience angle was confirmed by the BBC#1 interviewee who argued that the news report must appeal to its addressees. He added that the protests in Bahrain were a heating event that touched the hearts of all Arabs, saying that because of this emotional connection, it was important to reflect on the protest’s situation in Pearl Square. In addition, political and violent discourse is usually avoided to be presented in English texts. The general director of Al Arabiya (Al-Arabiya #13) attributes this aspect to the legal issues. If the harshness is also depicted in the translated material, it would mean that the agency is promoting violence and hence calls for formatting and rephrasing.
Translation Agents and their Roles in the Translation Process
The shift editors at Al Arabiya initiate the process of translating news and articles from Arabic into English by sending emails to journalists on duty, asking for their answers. Finally, the online journalist are responsible for completing their job and submitting it to the shift editor, who in turn submits it to the copy editor for evaluation. To ensure that the translation is accurate, the copy editor edits the content and sends it back to the shift editor or the editor-in-chief for evaluation and approval. (Al Arabiya #17)
At BBC, the shift editor discusses with the team if there are materials that need translation, whether as information sources to be added to an existing news report or as an independent news report. Even for translating there are a different set of skilled people. The text of the article is being analyzed by the editors on the floor editor. Based on this material, the agents are chosen for translation. Different agents have different expertise such as in politics, sports, religion, entertainment, etc. If the content is related to Islamists, then it is being sent to the team who has expertise both in the language as well as this type of discourse. In the BBC, reports need translation concerning Islamists, are mainly send to the middle east bureau in Cairo. Once the translation is completed it is then forwarded to the shift editor. After approval from the editor, it is shared with the news editor and then the chief editor for publication. So, there are many people involved in the whole process starting from reporter, writer, translator, editors, etc. (BBC #10)
This research aims to address the role of translation in representing Islamist discourse in global news reports. It addressed the Islamist discourse is addressed in both versions of the news reports produced by the BBC and Al Arabiya, English, and Arabic. Nonetheless, textual analysis is not sufficiently capable of investigating all of the translation processes, including practices and translation agents within media institutions. The agents involved in producing news texts were explored in-depth as important elements through interviews. These elements address the social and technical aspects of the production process, which are hard to anticipate from textual analysis alone. Given the difficulty of analyzing the discourse of Islamists by only looking into news texts, it was useful to discuss how the agents who produce these texts deal with it in the process of production.
News Institution as a Translation Agent
Referencing news agencies in the news reports depends on the conditions imposed by the agreement between the agencies and the institutions. There is often no restriction on the methods of referencing and the media accommodates the news reports according to the space available and the place they will occupy in the news forum. Other times, the news institution that translates is required not to make any changes, for example, with the editors of news articles. In some cases, if the institution intends to translate a whole news report from the agency the latter requests that the translated news articles be sent to it before the institution publishes it.
As mentioned above Al Arabiya normally translate material that is published from two sources. BBC is an exception in this case. If it is published on BBC then Al Arabiya can take content from a single source i.e., BBC. When it comes to BBC they heavily rely on their material for publishing and take less material from other news agencies.
Translation agents in News Translation
News translation agents in news institutions
From Arabic to English and vice versa, translation practices in the BBC and Al Arabiya institutions are not guided by a stylebook. Instead, media houses assign the responsibility of establishing style to the translators, which may vary from journalists, news reporters, correspondents, or editors.
In Al Arabiya, the chief editor of the Al Arabiya English website (Al Arabiya #13) is mandated to intervene in instances of inappropriate language use in translated materials.
“I do intervene a lot actually with the language and selections of sources; number one, two, three and so on, the opinion is the journalist opinion obviously, but I always tell my colleagues they take or leave my suggestions. it because it is a matter of opinion. However, I justify the reason to give priority of certain items, explaining why I see it fits better here or there. In addition, I interfere if the language is wrong, probably from a professional point of view or even from the side of social, political sensitivities in the region.”
He argued that chief news editors are charged with finding an angle in the story, adding the title, and publishing the article:
“I publish the news reports since I am in charge. My colleagues make reports, and then I identify the most significant angle but they make the story and choose the images. I choose the most appealing headline for the report. and we publish it. If there is something we are not sure about we get back to the news editor who is the highest rank of the system.” (Al Arabiya #13)
The main decision-makers decide on the priorities of the day, the news to report from reporters in the field, and other agencies. However, the general manager has the last say in what decisions will be implemented.
“The responsibility of the chief editor to rank the priorities of events. If we have exclusive interviews, it takes the priority.” (Al Arabiya #13)
The main point of the above discussions is to justify the shape and content of some news editors in decisions making and explain the dimensions of the translation process. Bearing in mind that, due to its purpose, the discourse of the mass media is necessarily a product of the social and political context in which it is produced, Darwish (2010) argues that both professional translators and journalist-translators frame their interpretation within the institutional context and the specific circumstances of the organization for which they work. Therefore, there is the possibility that their decisions affect the argumentative structure of the text according to the editorial line of the media, more so if they have a close connection with a given media institution.
Translation Agents in News Gathering in news institutions
Interpreters / Reporters
Another factor that can condition the way news articles are translated is the time given to the journalists and the editors to do the job. The journalists and the editors do not have much time to do the translations; however, the limitations differ depending on the section. For example, translating for the international news section is not the same as translating for a supplement.
In their research on translation in news production, Bielsa and Bassnett (2009) reveal that journalists are required to carry out translation tasks. The interviews with the BBC agents, confirm this fact. Moreover, in some cases as in the case of BBC interviewee #8, he describes his role as an interpreter and news reports maker. His double role as he says; allows him to have something to do when there are no translation tasks available. BBC #8 is considered one of the rare cases of hiring an employee under the title of ‘translator’. However, over the experience he got in the newsroom over the years, his title changed to be ‘news editor.’ He explains his duty saying:
“My main duty here is to work as an interpreter. This is my main job because I learned that -at Apollo time- so I work as an interpreter even for the English government on official visits. For example, I was extremely busy at the time of Obama’s visit to the Middle East. He delivered speeches and joined conferences every day. So, I used to interpret live on air. In addition, I learned to make TV reports to make myself useful in the times when there would not be heavy translation tasks in the newsroom. Sometimes the shift editor asks me to renovate the news to be updated.” (BBC Arabic, #8)
Moreover, BBC World interviewee #1, is a multilingual professional who occupies a high position in the BBC World Service and covers Islamist groups and terrorism news. He notes that in cases where interviews are held, the reporter would not use an interpreter or a fixer to translate. As an English reporter who speaks Arabic and produces English reports for the BBC World Service, he writes and edits his pieces without the need for an interpreter. However, it should be noted that although he speaks Arabic fluently, his skills in reading and writing Arabic are basic.
In the joined interview with the BBC’s Arab journalist (BBC English TV #3) who mainly works in the BBC English TV channel and the English journalist (BBC #2), they explained with enthusiasm the important role of fixers, saying that:
“Fixers are extremely important members of our team. We don’t use fixers when we visit a country that has a BBC local correspondent, local producer, or a correspondent who is a native speaker and is fluent in both languages. However, sometimes we hire someone from outside when we don’t find a BBC member to help. What happens; they advise us on everything starting from what transport to use, which drivers to hire, even changing money, they inform us about the main news story, and who are the best people to meet to help set up interviews.” (BBC English, #2)
Apart from that, fixers are also translation agents. Since they are local natives, they have a deeper understanding of the language in use within a country. They are, therefore, able to provide a complete back-to-back translation. For instance, a journalist in the BBC news institution noted that fixers can help provide translations simultaneously as the interviews are being carried out and recorded.
In addition, they argued that fixers also help in editing the work. Since the team sent to gather news may be small, the fixers act as an additional workforce, ensuring news production is carried out within the shortest possible time.
BBC #3 affirmed the role of fixers in making the news report, he argued that they shorten the process of making the news report ready to be sent to the BBC English desk in London. He said the field reporters are on a tight schedule, busy filming and editing the pieces of the news, that is why the fixers mainly accompany the reporters even to their hotel rooms until the news report is ready to be sent to the BBC in London.
The case of these two media institutions reveals their reluctance to employ professional interpreters. The media institutions unconsciously underestimate the need for interpreters, and they are not considered a necessity. A journalist mentioned that the BBC reporters use the services of translators/interpreters when they feel it is necessary. Usually, those would be fixers or local journalists. The academic background doesn’t matter as long as this person is professional and trustworthy. For example, a person who coordinated with the BBC for a long period could be trustworthy but still would work with the BBC on a freelance basis.
As per BBC interviewee #18, News correspondents are journalists based in other countries or regions away from the capital of the media house. They allow media institutions to get information first-hand from different regions. Either news correspondents can be employed by the media house or are freelancers working on a piece-writing basis. The BBC and Al Arabiya have news correspondents based in the Middle East region and most Arab countries. BBC #18 argues that news correspondents are responsible for scriptwriting, producing news, partly editing, and finally sending the material to the editing department. Therefore, the news correspondent doubles up as the producer, deciding what content should be covered and coordinating the team. (BBC, #18)
As per Al Arabiya interview #21, in Al Arabiya, the news correspondent makes production decisions and manages a news team. For instance, Al Arabiya#11 is a news correspondent in Riyadh bureau, describes his role as a news correspondent as a producer. He is responsible for his staff, including camera operators, scriptwriting, and editing.
Usually in both institutions the BBC and Al Arabiya, the news correspondent is also responsible for the translation. What was gather from the fieldwork of both institutions concerning news reports of the pair of languages; Arabic and English; translations are a part of the news writer in Al Arabiya and the news correspondence in the BBC? Both titles (news correspondents and news writer) refer to the same journalistic tasks but mainly journalists are titled ‘news correspondence’ on the BBC and ‘news writers’ in al Arabiya. As a result, the news correspondent is also the translator. When asked if he had to translate as a news correspondent, the Al Arabiya correspondent from Riyadh said that news correspondents carry out translation duties as long as s/he translate what the interviewee says.
BBC, on the other hand, has correspondents around the world. In describing his duties and responsibilities, the chief editor of BBC Arabic mentioned correspondents’ presence and his responsibilities in coordinating them:
“Collaboration and cooperation with other BBC outlets, managing offices outside London with input and employees work online in Cairo particularly and commission of correspondences in various Arab capitals, feedback of journalists based inside London or correspondents sending their reports oversees, training for journalists in London SPGs who are team leaders in London Guidelines for writing for the correspondents out of London” (BBC, #18)
In the case of the BBC, correspondents are sent out to collect news under the supervision of field producers. BBC English field news producer (#3). explains that he works with a team of news correspondents to collect news or respond to breaking news worldwide. This team is ideally collected of English news reporters, fieldwork correspondents, and fixers. It reveals that some of the BBC correspondents are not base within the location of the news event. This differs from Al Arabiya, where news correspondents are located within the area of the news event. From a translation point of view, BBC correspondents may not have the context of the events occurring, and although they may employ the services of a translator, translation may be lost where the context is not understood. From a translation point of view, for the translation practice and accuracy, it is logically would better for the persons translating to be located in the event zone.
It can be noted that the interviewees’ proficiency level in the English language is level A for both institutions but for the Arabic language, the reporters’ mastering is common. On the other hand, Arabs working for BBC World or the BBC Arabic services are expected to master the four skills of speaking, listening, writing, and reading efficiently in English. This could be justified because the in-house ‘real’ translations in the BBC take place mostly in the non-English BBC services, which use the BBC world service news reports as their main provider. Moreover, those non-English reporters should be well prepared to write English pieces if required for the BBC World staff.
The news-making process starts with sourcing news reports. Sources for news reports can exist in original content collected by the primary news agency or materials collected by journalists. Journalists are charged with ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of collected materials through cross-referencing. In both institutions, decisions regarding the news-making process and news translation process are either made by the editorial meetings in which major issues regarding the process are thought over. In the BBC this editorial meeting takes time twice a day, one takes place early morning, and the other meeting in the med of the day. On the other hand, Al-Arabiya holds a meeting with the chief editor early morning, also there is another meeting between the shift editor at the beginning of his/her shift. The news translation process is guided by key principles in both the BBC and Al Arabiya, which call for maintaining professionalism and guiding aspects such as reporting political materials. The guidelines do not differ much, however, Al Arabiya’s guidelines are more detailed and provide vivid examples.
Though the institution’s guidelines mentor the institutional perspectives on translation in both BBC and AI Arabiya, translation and news generation processes are adopted from a teamwork approach. However, decisions revolving around what items are needed to be translated, when are then are they need to be translated and how will they be translated are mainly discussed in the editorial meetings first.
The individual perspectives among journalists differ. For example, in the BBC, some of the interviewees were from the Middle East bureau located in Egypt. Those of them, who hold a university degree in Translation, explained the role of translation in news-making openly and proudly. However, other interviewees tried to focus on their efforts as professional news journalists. The case in Al Arabiya was somehow different; most of the interviewees were open, proud, and passionate in talking about the translation because they are eager to show themselves to the world since the Al-Arabiya institution is a relatively young institution compared to the BBC. It looks for disseminating itself globally more and more.
Some journalists view the translation process as time-consuming. In certain cases, translation and transliteration may become very time-consuming and resource-intensive, particularly when vast amounts of data are gathered and evaluated. To guarantee that the translation process fits with the editorial guidelines and the institution’s ideology, journalists try to ensure that their translations accurately and completely express the original’s content and tone. Through adherence to the news institutions’ style, and norms and reviewing official vocabulary, specialist words, and references to ensure uniformity throughout a series of pieces.
The translation process is also associated with ideology, the final news produced is checked if it allies with the institution’s political stand. Indeed, individual journalists acknowledge the role of translation in transmitting news to the target audience. Paraphrasing is common in both news institutions; Al Arabiya considers whether the information is interesting to the target audience. If the information is not interesting, then the journalists who understand the language and the target audience’s culture will paraphrase the information to meet the audience’s needs and avoid the usage of sensitive terms. When paraphrasing anything, journalists attempt to communicate the sense of the original message while also demonstrating that they understand the material well enough to regurgitate it. In news translation, the paraphrase provides the reader with a clear grasp of the institution’s stance on the event, and it should be accurate. However, paraphrasing is used in news translation also to avoid sensitive terms. In the news institutions, the journalists are the ones who determine what to paraphrase, then the final report is checked by the shift editor and if there is something that needs to change, the editor will make this change. For example, if the editor thinks that that report must change the focus angle, he would make the necessary change. In this case, he would shorten a direct quotation or would change the direction to an indirect one or would paraphrase a direct quotation. However, these journalists are guided by policies and guidelines put in place by the organizations. The Text has to be translated appropriately to the audience’s culture without losing the original meaning.
Decision-making translation agents are those that determine what translation practice to be adopted. These agents involve the journalist producing the news text, the shift editors, newsroom chief editors, and the chief editor. They decide whether a translation is to be complete and if omissions should be considered. In both the BBC and Al Arabiya, the senior management undertakes the decision-making roles. However, the fieldwork shows that those senior managers, don’t have a background in translation and most of them are monolingual. In Al Arabiya, the general director and chief editor are the main decision-makers who determine what goes in terms of translation within the news reports. Mainly, what drives their decisions is the report’s compliance with the international rules of covering terrorism news and its compliance with the institution’s political view of events. In BBC, the senior management determines what practices should be adopted. However, the news producers are also given responsibility for determining news coverage.
Translation agents in newsgathering include reporters, interpreters, translators, news correspondents, and fixers. In both the BBC and Al Arabiya, news reporters, correspondents, and fixers are expected to double up as translators. Translation agents in news production are mainly the editors. Editors act as gatekeepers who determine which content should be published. They ensure that the translated material adheres to the house style guidelines and has the new values. They also correct mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. They ensure that the material does not contain libelous statements and is not biased. The editor’s role in translation is not to rewrite what the translator has given in to their voice but to ensure that the readers can understand the news report.
Translation of the news does have a huge impact on the news that is being posted in different regions. This is why BBC and Al Arabiya have set standard operating procedures for the translation of the news. They both have their own set of guidelines and staff from both organization follows those guidelines. When it comes to Islamist discourse while translating from Arabic to English and English to Arabic both BBC and Al Arabiya are very careful in posting any of these things. They ensure that the material they post is standardized and must meet all the required guidelines to ensure impartiality so that religious sentiment should not get hurt through offending Islamic values.
The practices explained by both BBC and Al Arabiya in this chapter inform the researcher on how things are being done in the newsroom of both news institutions. One difference between BBC from Al Arabiya is that BBC relies heavily on their reporter and agents and tries to create content of its own. Most of the time they translate content that is created by their team into any other language. Whereas Al Arabiya resources are mostly from global news agencies and channels.
As explained in this chapter both BBC and Al Arabiya have their own set of translation strategies and practices. The news team adopts different strategies and practices as per the situation environment to make content interesting but the important thing that BBC and Al Arabiya ensure is that they are as per the guidelines set by them. This ensures the quality of the translated content. They also have language experts in their teams who have expertise in multiple languages. These language experts do not only help in the translation process but also help in language management during the translation process.
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