The Linguist

The Linguist 53,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Vol/53 No/4 2014 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 13 RUSSIAN IN THE UK "Russian journalism is still influenced by its Soviet heritage. While many of the Moscow and federal media in Russia are looking more and more into Western standards, and keep up with their foreign rivals in terms of quality, objectivity and innovation in the newsroom, the situation in the regions is not so good," explains Vsevolod Pulya, Managing Editor of RBTH. "Many journalists still tend not to separate facts from opinion, not to verify facts, shed light only on one point of view in controversial situations." Aware of these risks, RBTH has developed a centralised system to ensure its high standards are upheld. It relies on a core of senior editors – the Central Desk – who select stories for publication on the various platforms. Smaller editorial teams, divided by region, are then tasked with diversifying the content and ensuring its suitability to their audience. Lara McCoy, Executive Editor for the Western Hemisphere, has been working for RBTH since 2009. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she manages the production of print and online content for English, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking audiences around the world. Introducing RBTH to American media wisdom and professional approaches to journalism is something very much on her mind. "Every piece of content you put up has the potential either to build your reputation as a reliable news source or to take away from it," she says. "Writers and editors need to think about how every piece of content is going to respond to the needs of the audience and affect the organisation's reputation." RBTH's association with Rossiyskaya Gazeta has often led to the accusation that it is a Kremlin mouthpiece, involved in propaganda. Its policy for dealing with this relies on the optimistic notion that one can always prove detractors wrong with hard work and commitment to producing independent, quality journalism. But with many competitors on the market, there is a lot of pressure, as every misstep can negatively impact on the whole operation. Adapting content One of the various ways in which RBTH tries to increase understanding between Russia and the rest of the world is by republishing content from major Russian publications – from Russkiy Reporter and Kommersant to Vedomosti and Having to translate and adapt the content for its international readers is no easy task. "A Russian audience has a shared cultural framework that is not available to an international audience," McCoy explains. RBTH often has to rework entire texts, converting obscure references into relatable ones, adding explanatory notes, cutting off comments masked as facts. "Sometimes it's less time-consuming and effective to write our own story," Pulya concludes. Even when dealing with its own content, RBTH faces the risk of getting 'lost in translation'. Many of the stories are written by Russian writers in Russian and later translated into the required language. The limited volume of the work means that RBTH cannot afford to hire in-house translators and has to contract the work out. "It is a real challenge to find quality translators, especially when using people who aren't committed to your project," McCoy remarks. The broad range of topics makes it especially hard, as most professional translators specialise in a few main subject areas. So how does one win an apparently quixotic battle like this? The answer is always the same: by trial and error, and by enforcing a strict regime of quality checking. Having worked at RBTH for the past three years, first as Director of Social Media and now as Editor of The Kompass, I have had the opportunity to witness and document the struggles and accomplishments of the organisation as a young project growing up in a modern Russian media context. Despite the structural problems that hinder the development of principle-driven journalism, there exists in the world of Russian media today, a certain momentum towards higher standards and a will to catch up with their Western counterparts – at least among certain groups of urban young professionals. Many of them are in Moscow, and a few of them have found their place at RBTH. One of the agency's biggest challenges: the clash between often diametrically opposite methods of journalism

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