Transcultural journalism and the politics of translation: Interrogating the BBC World Service

Baumann, Gerd; Gillespie, Marie and Sreberny, Annabelle (2011). Transcultural journalism and the politics of translation: Interrogating the BBC World Service. Sage.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884910388580

Abstract

When George Orwell worked for the BBC Eastern Services during the Second World War, he regarded it as ‘an organ of colonial discourse propagating the word and world view of the metropolitan centre to its peripheral subject people’ (Kerr, 2002: 473–90). Orwell’s misgivings about his own journalistic practice and the BBC Eastern Service’s suspected ideological functions may pose an enduring dilemma for some journalists, but many are delighted to endure the processes of recruitment, induction, training and enculturation into the BBC’s hegemonic, globally diffused brand of impartial journalism. This is called, with some self-irony, ‘being BBCed’ by journalists working in, or for, Bush House. The BBC’s overseas services (now the World Service) have long relied on an army of diasporic translators and ‘the right kind of voice’ to disseminate news across the globe. The long-standing reputation of the BBC World Service (BBCWS) among the world’s pre-eminent broadcasters and its credibility have depended on the largely undocumented and unexplored everyday transcultural encounters and translation practices that have taken place in the diasporic and cosmopolitan contact zones of Bush House. This special issue draws on a collaborative empirical research project on the BBC World Service to examine wider issues of the politics, ethics and practices of transcultural journalism and the politics of translation.

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