1.11.2023

Using Google Translate to report news

I was reading an article in the Miami Herald about an ancient wishing well in Germany. At the bottom of the article it said, "Google Translate was used to translate the news release from The Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection." I was surprised to see that because I hadn't seen such a description before. 

So I did a search and found another Miami Herald article about ruins in China, which states that "Google Translate and Baidu Translate were used to translate the news release." When I clicked on the journalist's name, it linked to The Kansas City Star and says that she works at McClatchy, which is a media company owned by a hedge fund. The ancient well story was there, but it was linked to The Star instead of the Miami Herald. From that bio page, I clicked on another story about an ancient pantry in Germany, and at the bottom it says, "Google Translate was used to translate the news release from the W├╝rzburg District Office."

I've used Google Translate in my free time to understand online content, but I've never used it for paid work. I don't know if this is an issue for journalism. For instance, did someone need to verify the translations? What if the translations are not accurate or don't want to be? Not only do online, AI, and machine translations need to be edited in the target language, but if they're being reported in a news outlet and by journalists, the information should be accurate. 

At least the stories link to the original press release, so if anyone wants to look at the source, they can. I think this can speed up the reporting and content-creation process, but it should be done responsibly. I think it's really cool that we have such technology to connect with information around the world. When I started translating several years ago, it was time-consuming and there weren't a lot of online resources, so I had to buy some pretty hefty dictionaries. 

p.s. e-book version of my debut novel is still at Amazon, and the price for the print version has been reduced: buy at the Eckhartz Press site.