Translation and news making : a study of contemporary arabic television

Darwish, Ali (2009) Translation and news making : a study of contemporary arabic television. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Arabic satellite television has recently attracted tremendous attention in both the academic and professional worlds, with a special interest in Aljazeera as a curious phenomenon in the Arab region. Having made a household name for itself worldwide with the airing of the Bin Laden tapes, Aljazeera has set out to deliberately change the culture of Arabic journalism, as it has been repeatedly stated by its current General Manager Waddah Khanfar, and to shake up the Arab society by raising awareness to issues never discussed on television before and challenging long-established social and cultural values and norms while promoting, as it claims, Arab issues from a presumably Arab perspective. Working within the meta-frame of democracy, this Qatari-based network station has been received with mixed reactions ranging from complete support to utter rejection in both the west and the Arab world. This research examines the social semiotics of Arabic television and the socio-cultural impact of translation-mediated news in Arabic satellite television, with the aim to carry out a qualitative content analysis, informed by framing theory, critical linguistic analysis, social semiotics and translation theory, within a re-mediation framework which rests on the assumption that a medium “appropriates the techniques, forms and social significance of other media and attempts to rival or refashion them in the name of the real" (Bolter and Grusin, 2000: 66). This is a multilayered research into how translation operates at two different yet interwoven levels: translation proper, that is the rendition of discourse from one language into another at the text level, and translation as a broader process of interpretation of social behaviour that is driven by linguistic and cultural forms of another medium resulting in new social signs generated from source meaning reproduced as target meaning that is bound to be different in many respects. The research primarily focuses on the news media, news making and reporting at Arabic satellite television and looks at translation as a reframing process of news stories in terms of content and cultural values. This notion is based on the premise that by its very nature, news reporting is a framing process, which involves a reconstruction of reality into actualities in presenting the news and providing the context for it. In other words, the mediation of perceived reality through a media form, such as television, actually modifies the mind’s ordering and internal representation of the reality that is presented. The research examines the process of reframing through translation news already framed or actualized in another language and argues that in submitting framed news reports to the translation process several alterations take place, driven by the linguistic and cultural constraints and shaped by the context in which the content is presented. These alterations, which involve recontextualizations, may be intentional or unintentional, motivated or unmotivated. Generally, they are the product of lack of awareness of the dynamics and intricacies of turning a message from one language form into another. More specifically, they are the result of a synthesis process that consciously or subconsciously conforms to editorial policy and cultural interpretive frameworks. In either case, the original message is reproduced and the news is reframed. For the case study, this research examines news broadcasts by the now world-renowned Arabic satellite television station Aljazeera, and to a lesser extent the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) and Al- Arabiya where access is feasible, for comparison and crosschecking purposes. As a new phenomenon in the Arab world, Arabic satellite television, especially 24-hour news and current affairs, provides an interesting area worthy of study, not only for its immediate socio-cultural and professional and ethical implications for the Arabic media in particular, but also for news and current affairs production in the western media that rely on foreign language sources and translation mediation for international stories.

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ID Code: 30402
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Knight, Alan & Duffield, Lee
Keywords: translation, media, news, Arabic television
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 Feb 2010 06:49
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:43

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