Interpreting is a complex process and being a media interpreter is different from conference and other forms of interpreting. A media interpreter's role is vital especially to journalists who have to interview people who do not speak English.
Facility in a language is a key factor in the job of a journalist, whether they are writing or reporting something. However, it could be a different story when the journalist has to interview a foreign personality who does not speak or understand English. In this occasion, the journalist cannot depend on his own skills of interviewing, listening and observing. To ensure that the interview goes without mishap, it is vital to rely on the skills of an experienced media interpreter.
It is no longer a rarity for a journalist to work with an interpreter. In fact, it is considered an essential tool, especially if you are assigned to report from a country where the spoken language is different from your own. Even if you are not assigned to a foreign country, there is a possibility of interviewing foreign-born Americans whose primary language is not English.
Working with a Media Interpreter
There are challenges when you work with a media interpreter but these challenges are surmountable. As a journalist, you develop a keener ability to read between the lines and you get cues from the people you interview through their stammering, hesitations and gestures whether you have to change your type of questions, be more diplomatic or probe deeper by asking more leading questions. These things may be difficult to do if you are using an interpreter.
Adding more color to your story or scene is another aspect that might get lost when you are using an interpreter. Because of cultural barriers and differences, it might be difficult to piece the story together when you have an interpreter working with you. However, if you find a professional and experienced media interpreter and are able to set the ground rules, you will be able to write or report a great story that will display your talent as a journalist.
Dealing with a Media Interpreter
Here are the things you need to do.
- The first thing you have to do is find the right media interpreter. If you are a freelance journalist, ask for some recommendations from colleagues. If you are working for a large media organization with bureaus in different parts of the world, it is likely that they have a list of reliable interpreters in the area.
- Find an interpreter who is a native speaker and not one who only has an academic or working knowledge of the target language. A native speaker will have a substantial vocabulary and will understand the nuances of the language of the person you are going to interview.
- Look for an interpreter who understands the cultural differences so you'll be able to overcome them. Be sure to get an interpreter who will remain calm under difficult situations and would not put you and your crew in danger if you happen to be in a region that is politically unstable.
- Ensure that the interpreter knows that accuracy is critical. Find an interpreter who is experienced in media reporting and media interview. Accuracy should be in the smallest details as well as in the big picture. You have to make it clear to the interpreter that the words must be precise. If the interview or story is complex, instruct the interpreter to fully understand it.
- If you are going to quote the interviewee, ensure that the interpreter understands that you need the exact translation of what the person said and should never paraphrase. If there are words that are difficult to understand, tell your interpreter to write them down so that you can double-check them after the interview.
- Tell the interpreter to get in character, meaning that he or she should use the first person instead of the third person.
- In order to capture the scene's flavor, it is essential to instruct the interpreter to interpret everything he or she hears, including offhand remarks.
Preparing for the Interview
Preparation is an essential step to ensure the smooth flow of the interview. Likewise, it is vital to go over everything, from the purpose of the interview to the questions you're going to ask to how the interview is going to be conducted. You and your interpreter should be on the same page to ensure that you get the story clearly and accurately.
Preparation should include discussing what should be done before, during and after the interview. Here are some tips.
You are the journalist and the one conducting the interview so it is vital that you control the flow of conversation.
Prior to the Interview
Before the interview, see to it that you fully explain the purpose of the interview to the interpreter. It will make it easier for the media interpreter to help you get what you are aiming for.
Review all the interview questions together. It will help the interpreter avoid being confused or surprised during the interview. It there are obscure or technical words, the interpreter will have time to learn them. The interpreter can also help you create a strategy on how to approach tough or sensitive questions.
As you will be using a native speaker, the interpreter is familiar with local culture. Ask him or her if there could be some cultural issues regarding regional or class differences, gender, age or other social differences that can hinder the interview process.
Make it your SOP to record the interview so you and the interpreter can review and transcribe them later for greater accuracy.
During the Interview
Whether you are in the U.S. or in the field outside the country, it is critical to explain the purpose of the interview to the people concerned. Being honest can help settle raw nerves, for example. It will also help the interviewees decide if they want to go on with the interview or not.
It's essential for the interviewee to know the interpreting process. Find out if the source can speak your own language and how much. If the person can speak some English, it might be possible for you to ask some questions directly. After introducing yourself and the interpreter, explain that the interpreter will relay the questions you ask and his or her answers will be relayed to you.
Do not forget to face the source person. Even if you have an interpreter, you will be asking the questions directly. The interpreter should be on the side so you are able to make eye contact with the person you are interviewing.
It is important to speak clearly, slowly and simply. It is to help your interpreter relay the questions accurately. Likewise, if the source is able to understand some English, he or she can understand and answer you directly.
Control the interview process and ensure that everyone follows the outline you made before the interview. It is essential that the interpreter can keep up with you and the interviewee by setting up a pace that allows each person to speak. If the source isn't giving the interpreter enough time to translate, you should ask the interpreter to let the source know that he or she needs to allow time for the interpreter to translate.
You should also look out for incomplete or incorrect translations. If you hear something that seems off tangent, repeat it to ensure that what you heard is what the source actually said. Likewise, if the source speaks longer than what the interpreter translated, ask the interpreter for the full translation of what was previously said to ensure that the interpreter is not summarizing the response of the interviewee.
After the Interview
It is vital to go over the interview with your interpreter immediately after the interview. The interpreter may have some corrections. Moreover, you can clarify any answers that seem confusing.
If the material is complex or involves a series of events, you should go over the facts several times with the interpreter, to ensure that every detail is precise.
Since the interpreter is a local, you can ask his or her opinion about the source. They often pick up or see things that you might have missed during the interview. A professional interpreter is trained to read between the lines and understand body language, so it is possible for the interpreter to see if the interviewee was trying hard to keep calm or was evasive.
When you start writing your article, mention the language spoken by the source. It's also vital to tell readers that you used an interpreter to help you get the story. Ask the interpreter to read the article before you submit it to ensure that there are no further corrections to be made.
These ideas will help you become the best journalist, because you can present stories that are accurate and real, with the invaluable assistance of a professional media or interview interpreter.
For Interview Interpreting with a Flair – Contact Us, We are Here for You
With the increasing number of people speaking different languages in the United States, the demand for interpreters exponentially increases. In today's scenario, some people who do not speak English may appear in the news or some may have interesting or important stories to tell. Thus journalists today also use interpreters to facilitate their work. Interview interpreting is a specialized skill that requires not only facility with languages but also exposure and experience in the field of journalism and knowledge of foreign culture. At Day Translations, Inc. we have a team of highly qualified, highly experienced and native speaking interview interpreters ready to work side by side with journalists anywhere in the world. They are available to help you become the best journalist you can be with their accurate interpreting skills and their cultural knowledge. Book an interview interpreter now by calling 1-800-969-6853 or sending us an email at Contact us. You can reach us immediately as we are open 24/7, every day of the year.