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Many Voices, One BBC World Service? The 2008 US Elections, Gatekeeping and Trans-Editing

Publication Date
  • Bbc World Service
  • Comparison
  • Gatekeeping
  • International Media
  • Linguistic Analysis
  • Localization
  • News Coverage
  • Trans-Editing
  • Translation
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Psychology :: Communication & Mass Media [H03]
  • Sciences Sociales & Comportementales
  • Psychologie :: Communication & Médias [H03]


This article concerns the trans-editing (simultaneous translation and editing) of coverage of the 2008 US presidential elections on BBC World Service websites. We investigate how English-language source texts were reworked in Arabic, Persian, Tamil, and Turkish, with a detailed analysis of the structuring, content, and rhetoric of a sample text in English and in these other languages. This analysis shows that, while the BBC’s corporate aim is to provide a univocal service across its multilingual output, this aim is in tension with widely differing journalistic norms, and differing assumptions about audience knowledge and needs, in each of the World Service’s language departments. The ‘melody’ remains essentially the same, but it is orchestrated differently by each department.

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