Comptes rendus

Esperança Bielsa and Susan Bassnett. Translation in Global News. London and New York, Routledge, 2009, 162 p.[Record]

  • Julie McDonough Dolmaya

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  • Julie McDonough Dolmaya
    York University, Glendon College

In chapter 1, the authors explore the relations between power, language and translation. This chapter provides an overview of recent developments in translation theory and surveys the relevant literature, drawing parallels between news production and translation. As Bielsa and Bassnett point out, for instance, news stories are assembled in a way that resembles the translation process: information is deliberately and consciously selected, structured, assembled and fabricated into a format that satisfies reader expectations. But they also note how news translation challenges key concepts in Translation Studies. They argue that information undergoes so much editing and “repackaging” in its journey from one language to another that the distinction between source and target becomes blurred. In fact, “research into news translation poses questions about the very existence of a source and hence challenges established definitions of translation itself” (p. 11). Chapter 2 addresses how globalization theories apply to Translation Studies. The authors point out instances in which translation is not taken into account in globalization theories, while offering examples of the role translation plays in a global context. As Bielsa and Bassnett argue, translation is an infrastructure of global communication, a border area where the local and global intersect; the ways in which cultural globalization operates will be better understood only when translation becomes less invisible. Chapter 3 focuses on the globalization of news. It defines and describes the history of global news agencies, focusing specifically on two European agencies: Reuters and Agence Havas/France-Presse. As Bielsa and Bassnett show, translation has been tied to news agencies since the 1830s, when Bureau Havas, which translated foreign newspapers for the French media, was transformed into the first news agency and subsequently began translating foreign news and gathering its own. This chapter also explores how modern journalism has evolved into global journalism: as the global infrastructure of Reuters and Havas brought news of distant events to readers faster and more accurately than before, the news agencies also tried to have their values of impartiality and objectivity, along with their emphasis on fact-based discourse, adopted worldwide. The chapter ends with a brief look at alternative news agencies such as Inter Press Service, the largest supplier of information about less-developed regions, and more recent developments in global news, such as continuous information channels like CNN, and non-Western news channels, such as Al-Jazeera. In chapter 4, the authors study how translation operates in news agencies. They argue that news editors, though not formally designated as “translators,” possess the skills needed to produce translations. As they note, news agencies view translation as an integral part of the writing and editing process, one that is subject to the same stylistic and genre conventions as other journalistic texts. This means news translators must work as though they were journalists, even if they are not. Bielsa and Bassnett explore the nature of news translation, briefly discussing how news translators commonly intervene in the text. These interventions, which may include changing titles and leads, eliminating unnecessary information, adding background information, changing the order of paragraphs, and summarizing information, are intended to make the target text more like an original text suited to the needs of the target market. Finally, the authors discuss some translation practices in news agencies, including an emphasis on producing translations quickly, prioritizing the news that should be translated, observing stylistic rules, and ensuring translations are revised before being released. News translation, they argue, is doubly invisible: the translator’s intervention is hidden not only because the translations are domesticated, but also because the translation process is integrated into journalism. The authors use chapter 5 to delve further into the translation …