World Media in English Guidelines for Creation and Submission of Reports


Contents:

1. Introduction
2. You The Citizen Journalist
3. Legal Aspects
   3.1 What You Need to Know
   3.2 Copyright
   3.3 Defamation
   3.4 Privacy
4. Creating Your Report Step By Step
   4.1. Searching and Prioritizing Subject Matter Using the Internet
   4.2. Web Survey of Facts and Context
   4.3. Putting Together a Set of Coverages to Translate
   4.4. Standards for Translations
   4.5. Adding Interpretation Content
   4.6. Impartial Reporter Only, or Analyst and Commentator Too?
5. Publishing Your Report

1. Introduction

World Media in English is here to provide a free, accessible and democratic publishing platform for citizens of the world who wish to create and share with global audiences English interpretations of public interest media originally published in their native language. The purpose of these guidelines is to define minimum requirements for research and creation of reports with the aim to maximize their public education and engagement value. Within these guidelines contributors are free to choose their subject matter, and they remain the only editors of their work and co-owners of copyright, with terms of use of their work as indicated on our website. For more about this initiative please see our home page at www.worldmediainenglish.org.

Using these guidelines any citizens of the world with these qualifications can create and submit an article or a video for publication on this website:

(a) Native-level knowledge of public affairs of a community by upbringing or contact,
(b) Literacy in the native language of the same community at the level of a mother tongue,
(c) Literacy in, and ability to translate into English with accuracy and quality compatible with standards of professional media.

If the native language is English, translation will not be needed but all other requirements apply.

The purpose of these guidelines is to define minimum criteria for:

(a) selection of subject matter,
(b) search and selection of media content for translation,
(c) quality of translations,
(d) contributors' added interpretation content, and overall organization of articles and videos.

These guidelines can at the same time serve as a complete set of step by step instructions for research and creation of reports. Before starting to work, we recommend that contributors confirm their intended project with us. Contributors are also welcome to contact us any time during their work, as we may be able to help with editing their writings or video productions.

Group collaborations are recommended. There should be at least one contributor (a lead author) who takes responsibility for the translations and interpretation content, who will not remain anonymous. All other contributors in a group can remain anonymous.

With collaboration among citizens and universities these guidelines will always evolve. Articles and videos must meet the requirements of the guidelines at the time of publication. Retroactive changes will not be required.

2. You The Citizen Journalist

Reporting about an event, condition or issue consists of two parts: the facts, and the context. There are facts that are observable on the ground, and there are underlying social, political, economic and/or environmental conditions that give rise to the behavior, reactions and events that result in the facts. At a minimum, good reporting should aim to present all the facts without bias. Good public interest journalism is also concerned with informing and engaging audiences towards change; and this starts with an understanding of not only the facts, but also the "hows" and the "whys" behind the facts. For this reason it is preferable that our reports include context in addition to facts, in other words, that they contain a bigger picture of the underlying conditions, and the cause-and-effects relationships that have led to the facts on the ground.

In media coverage facts are often well reported, if not by a single medium by a number in combination. On the other hand, objective and inclusive context analysis is less often provided. There are two main reasons: first, because context analysis draws on extensive knowledge of social history of the communities involved in a story; and second, because often an observer, whether an individual or an organization, is in some ways affiliated with, or subject to control by some of the actors in the story itself, making them susceptible to biases. Biases can be conscious or unconscious.

Conscious bias is avoidable, while unconscious bias may not be; but where democratic conversation and action is available, the possibility of unconscious bias is not a good reason to censor the author. In fact, because views and experiences "from the inside" are often underrepresented in international media, context as seen from the eyes of a native observer may actually provide a good starting point for an international conversation about the issues.

For these reasons, we encourage our contributors to work on providing context as well, especially where available coverage and analyses leave gaps or unanswered questions. At the same time, recognizing the possible limitations, we leave this part optional. In other words, you will have a choice to take the role of a journalist only and interpret your sources' content as they are, or take the role of an analyst in addition and offer international audiences your assessment of the context as well. Taking the first option will not prevent you from sharing your personal views and opinions with your audiences later. You can do so in public discussions following publication of your work.

Let us call content in your report to be authored originally (as opposed to translated) "interpretation content". If you choose to remain an impartial journalist only, you will need to add the following interpretation content to your translations:

(a) An introduction of the subject matter outlining its importance with regards to public interest locally, and internationally as applicable,
(b) A description of coverage in the international media, and how it compares with coverage in the local media,
(c) Generally you will have a set of excerpts from coverages in your local media to translate. These translations, put in the chronological order of the events, will form the main body of your report. You will need to introduce each excerpt with a summary of the facts it contains, and describe what is adds to what is covered so far.
(d) A conclusion which summarizes what has happened socially, politically, economically and/or environmentally as a result of the events you have reported about; and a description of what needs to change as regards public interest.
(e) A short biography of yourself showing your native-level knowledge of the issues and your language qualifications.

You should remember that here as an impartial journalist you are only interpreting and conveying what others have expressed. As such, you should not allow your personal opinions to sway you in emphasizing or de-emphasizing any parts of the content.

Providing context becomes more important when the reported facts do not by themselves add up to a big picture that can show international audiences how or why the events and changes have happened, and where things seem headed for the future. This is where there is good reason for you to take on the responsibilities of an analyst and commentator too.

To try to complete the picture, or in other words to try to fill in the gaps and clear discrepancies in the chains of cause-and-effects relationships, you should first look for more facts; and this may require more research including extending the time range of your report. If after gathering all available facts there are still gaps or discrepancies, you can then look for opinions, but still preferably not personal ones, but rather those expressed on the part of social constituencies in your community such as social, cultural, ideological or politically affiliated groups; again as reflected in media. Here too, you should be inclusive and look for all existing views, and look for direct references to your unanswered questions. If you cannot find direct references, you can then express opinions that you can reasonably base on past trends and/or behaviour of the actors involved.

Whichever way you create your report, you should keep in mind that your goals are universal ones: drawing your audiences' attention to rights and justice for people who need them, and stimulating international conversations about the kinds of changes needed in public policy and citizen choices and actions. Therefore you should maximize your reliance on facts, and your interest in context should stay focused on solutions.

3. Legal Aspects

3.1. What You Need to Know

As you will see in these guidelines, your work is based on quoting and interpreting content that has already been published by other media, while minimizing your reliance on personal observations and opinions, doing so not for profit and for purposes of public interest. The kind of content you create is therefore by its nature furthest from possibilities of overstepping any legal bounds associated with publication of material in general. You and your publisher are however legally responsible for your work, and you should be aware of applicable laws and possible limitations.

There are three main areas of law that apply to creating and publishing written or audio-visual content: copyright, defamation and privacy.

3.2 Copyright

Any organization or individual who creates content whether written or audio or audio-visual owns the copyright to their content. This means to publish or broadcast translation of a full report you generally need permission from the organization or person who has created the original content; even if you are doing so internationally, because most countries of the world are signatories to international copyright agreements. It is however always alright to select an excerpt or excerpts from a work and translate them mentioning the source. This is called "fair dealing".

For your purpose using excerpts may actually be a preferred option, because generally to build your story you will have a number of coverages to translate from and:

(a) From each coverage you only need to quote what it adds to the previous ones chronologically,
(b) You want to avoid repeating content where coverages overlap, and keep the length of your report to a minimum.

In some cases you may need to include all or the majority of some of the coverages. Fortunately most often copyright does not become a barrier:

(a) Many media now allow, even encourage use of their content with mention of the source. A notice with details of the kinds of uses they allow will be on their website.
(b) You can write to the copyright owner and ask for their written permission.
(c) If both you and your publisher (World Media in English) are in countries that do not have a treaty with the country of the copyright owner, you will not need a permission.

3.3 Defamation

A claim of defamation can result when you have published a statement that falsely injures the reputation of an individual. If you are quoting a media outlet, even if the statement is false the responsibility will not be yours. Similarly you can quote from any public hearings organized by governments such as in trial courts or parliaments. If a statement is yours, you can still publish it legally if:

(a) You have evidence showing that it is true, or
(b) You can show that it is a reasonable assumption based on facts of past behaviour, especially if matters of public interest are involved.

3.4 Privacy

It is illegal to collect, use or disclose personal information about people without their consent. "Personal information" here means any information that can identify an individual, in other words information that more commonly we understand as private like photos, videos or voice recordings or contact information or any expression or behaviour an individual has shown in private.

Generally you should avoid using personal information in your report. If you find that doing so may be very important, you should make sure that you have the individual(s)' consent.

4. Creating Your Report Step By Step

4.1. Searching and Prioritizing Subject Matter Using the Internet

In the broadest sense we are interested in all matters of public interest, and equally so as they may pertain to any communities of the world. Public interest includes economic or physical security, public health, living environments, peace, justice, human rights and democracy in general, affecting any groups of people small or large, in the present or future. It is clear that while this definition is fully scoped, insofar as change is concerned and given relative limits of any one initiative, we should prioritize subject matter based on these factors:

(a) magnitude of costs or benefits, for example if the issues are life or death, or less,
(b) time urgency, if there is only a short window of opportunity to act,
(c) numbers of people affected, including people affected indirectly over longer periods of time or in other locations,
(d) potential for solutions or change in relatively short term, for example if more public awareness in itself, especially internationally would lead to behaviour changes,
(e) how systemic the problems may be, for example if more awareness, especially internationally, would expose more that needs change,
(f) public education value, for example if the issues have been little known so far, while the knowledge that can be gained internationally can potentially be useful to other communities; or if the reporting is about a community which has been underrepresented in international media.

If you keep in touch with public affairs of your community through media in your native language, social media or personal contacts, likely you will have seen, or can otherwise search for reporting on subject matters that fit these descriptions. If you decide to volunteer an article or a video, you can maximize the reach and impact of your contribution with narrowing down on subject matters that fit more of these descriptions at once.

4.2. Web Survey of Facts and Context

Let us now assume that you have found out about certain facts that have made news in one or more media in your native language, facts which also fit one or more of the above descriptions. Generally you should not assume what you have seen so far is all that has been reported. It is important to do a survey to find out as much as possible about what has been reported and analyzed anywhere, including in English and any other languages you may know in addition to your native language.

Fortunately this survey is a power that now any of us with an internet connection and freedom to use it possesses. Almost all media output and public discussion whether by web-based media or older traditional media are now published on the internet, at least in summary form, in video, audio or written text. Web pages of these content are scanned by search engines within hours of publication. You only need some skills in keyword searching and some free time.

Google is the most powerful and widely used search engine in the world. Starting with your native language, by setting these filters in Google's advanced search menus you can narrow down your search and save time:

(a) a good choice of keywords connected with logical operators (AND, OR, NOT),
(b) date ranges of pages appearing in the results.

There is another filter you need, which you can only apply manually: You are only interested in content from professional media outlets (Statements by publicly known experts in a field can also be considered credible regardless of method of publication, as long as the content is clearly attributable. Examples of sources are social media accounts and academic publications). Going through your search results, if you are already familiar with the sources' websites, you will recognize their domain names; otherwise you can identify them for the first time by following the links to an original source and checking its credentials.

Depending on the story, fewer or more media may have covered it over a shorter or longer period of time. If your story contains many actors and interrelated events, it can take some trial and error with your keywords and date ranges to find all the reporting and analysis that has come out. Once searching more does not bring you additional results, you can stop and use your findings to build a timeline of the events, roles of the actors involved and analyses made by media and experts.

It is helpful to put your timeline in a visual form. Figure 1 shows the main elements of a hypothetical story and its progression on a time axis: the starting conditions at the beginning of your time range; the actors who, or which are driven to shape the events; and the events which in turn shape the final conditions at the end of your time range.

Timeline modelling of a news story

In media coverage, the elements of a story that are observable and verifiable get reported as facts (usually the events), while the elements that are not observable need to become subjects of analysis (These are often unobservable factors or "causes" that drive the actors, and the actors' intentions and reactions or "the effects"). Elements of a story that cannot be reported as facts, together with descriptions of the underlying conditions make up the context.

Obviously there are often many more actors and events than shown in our figure here, some of whom or which may remain unknown. Your goal as a journalist is to make the picture as complete as possible, so that your report will account better for the chains of cause-and-effects relationships that explain the "hows" and the "whys" of the changes. In ongoing situations, conditions at the end of your time range may not be the end of the story as far as your audiences' interests are concerned, but it may be possible to extend your story's time range to cover the latest events that can show "the big picture" better.

If you know languages other than your native and English, especially if there has been original coverage in those languages, you should repeat your survey in those languages as well, and add any new findings to your timeline.

It is important to do a survey in English too, in order to gather coverage that has been made in international media. As always a keyword search should be your main tool. To double check your results we recommend searching websites of international media individually, using the lists we have compiled in the table below (You can search through a specific website using the 'site:' command in Google).

English Language Primary International Reporters by State
 
State News Agencies State Broadcasters* For Profit Media Public, Nonprofit or Civil Society Media* Majority or Official Language
USA Associated Press (AP): ap.org**
United Press (UPI): upi.com
Voice of America voa.gov cnn.com
foxnews.com
huffingtonpost.com
usatoday.com
wsj.com
nytimes.com
latimes.com
washingtonpost.com
democracynow.org
npr.org
pbs.org
English
UK Reuters: reuters.com BBC World Service: bbc.co.uk/news/world thetimes.co.uk
telegraph.co.uk
theguardian.com
independent.co.uk
English
Russia ITAR-TASS:
en.itar-tass.com
RIA Novosti: en.ria.ru
Interfax: interfax.com
Voice of Russia: voiceofrussia.com RT (Formely called Russia Today): rt.com Russian
China Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua): news.cn/english China Central Television English: english.cctv.cn
China Radio International English: english.cri.cn
Mandarin
France Agence France Press (AFP): afp.com/en France 24 (Television): france24.com/en
Radio France International: english.rfi.fr
French
Germany Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA): dpa.com** Deutsche Welle: dw.de German
Spain Agencia EFE: efe.com** Television Espaniola Internacional: rtve.es
Radio Exterior de Espana: ree.rne.es
Spanish
Portugal Agencia de Notocias de Portugal: lusa.pt** Portugeuse
Qatar Aljazeera: aljazeera.com Arabic
India Press Trust of India PTI: ptinews.com** All India Radio: newsonair.nic.in
Doordarshan (National Television): ddinews.gov.in
Hindi/English
Brazil The Rio Times: riotimesonline.com Portuguese
Nigeria News Agency of Nigeria
(NAN):
nannewsngr.com
English
Mexico The News: thenews.com.mx Spanish
Indonesia antaranews.com/en Voice of Indonesia: en.voi.co.id Indonesian
Japan Kyodo News: english.kyodonews.jp**
Jiji Press: jen.jiji.com**
NHK World: nhk.or.jp/nhkworld Japanese
South Africa South African Press
Association (SAPA):
sapa.co.za
English/Afrikaans
Uruguay Merco Press: en/mercopress.com Spanish

  
* Based on legal ownership and official declarations.
** Websites not searchable. Searches can be done on subscribing media outlets.

This search may reveal three different results:

(a) International media have missed or omitted important facts or context. This will be more reason why your work will be beneficial. You should describe the omissions in the "Coverage in International Media" section of your report, so your audiences will know that there will be more good reasons for them to read or watch your report.

(b) International media have covered facts or context that were missed or omitted in other coverages you found. Knowing about these facts and analyses adds to your and your audiences' understanding. You should add them to your timeline and describe them in the "Coverage in International Media" section of your report. You should also mention them again in the main body of your report where they fit chronologically.

(c) Having surveyed coverages in both local and international media, your assessment may be that there are no significant gaps; in other words, that the international media have already presented all the facts and context that have been covered locally. This in reality is improbable, but even if it is the case, there is still value in you as a native member of your community confirming it with your audiences, and sharing the full story with them; because even if the full picture has been presented by a single international outlet, and reached all their usual audiences (still a more improbable scenario), your report will still reach more audiences and create a new space for public discussions.

4.3 Putting Together a Set of Coverages to Translate

At this point you have a set of coveragres that contain a set of facts that reference a number of events and possibly a number of actors (human or nonhuman) who, or which have shaped those events within the time span of your report; with the results that certain social, political, economic and/or environmental conditions of concern have changed from a starting state to an ending state. And your timeline shows the events and the actors you have found with their relative positions on the time axis.

Your goal is to select a minimum set of coverages from among your findings such that in combination they present all of the facts you have found, and at least a version of context as fully as possible. Obviously there will be at least one set, and possibly more that will contain all of the facts you have found; but the level of context contained in this, or these sets of reports can range from little to convincing.

Remember that understanding of context may depend on opinions as well as facts. Up to this point you have only been an impartial journalist, not an analyst or a commentator (You will have a choice to become one later); therefore the version or versions of context you read from your search results do not need to be yours, but to be fair to your audiences and your sources, your selection of a set to translate should result in the most complete and convincing accounts of context that your sources offer. This also means that, as much as possible, perspective stated or implied in your selected set should represent those held by the spectrum of social, political or ideological constituencies that may exist within your community.

These considerations about inclusion of context are likely to narrow down your selection further, even to a single set. If you still find that there are more than one set that include context equally well, you can then use these additional criteria: minimizing the volume of content and/or maximizing reputation and reliability of your sources.

Finally having selected your best set of coverages, you should double check that all quotations of facts or context in your timeline are referenced back to one or more of the reports in the set, and conversely that each report in the set is referenced somewhere in your timeline. You are now ready to translate.

4.4. Standards for Translations

Your translations must be accurate and thorough using ranges of expression and vocabulary equivalent to those in the originals, and of course grammatical. With respect to style, translations can show a flavor of the source language and culture, but at the same time an effort should be made to write them in simple and fluent English so that audiences with English as a second language can easily follow them.

The contributor who creates the interpretation content (the lead author if you are a group) must be able to take responsibility for all of the content whether translated or authored. Taking responsibility for translations does not necessarily mean that the individual must have been the translator or the only translator; it only means that the individual must understand both the originals and their translations, and is able to confirm that the translations are complete and accurate.

Degree of effort needed to translate from a native language into a second language depends on familiarity with the subject matter and experience, but if you know both languages well and you are willing to spend some time in editing and fine-tuning your work, there is a good chance that you can do a good job of it. Otherwise your translation abilities should not become a barrier: You should try to find help. Also if you have completed a draft of your report (including the interpretation content), we will be happy to help in editing your work, or asking for professional help if necessary.

4.5. Adding Interpretation Content

As described in section 2, whether you choose to be an impartial reporter only, or an analyst and a commentator too, your report should be organized under the following four headings:

(a) Introduction
(b) Coverage in International Media
(c) Coverage in [name(s) of your native language(s)] Media
(d) Conclusions

The choice between a reporter only and an analyst too is yours, but it is one worth leaving to necessity. In other words, you can first assess the coverages you have selected for context inclusion. If it turns out that there are significant gaps or discrepancies, you will then have more reasons to extend your work in order to explain them. Therefore, for start you can pretend that you are an impartial reporter only, and create each of the above sections as follows:

(a) Introduction: In your introduction you should describe the location, the people, the issues involved, and the state of social or political and/or environmental conditions you are concerned with at the beginning of the time range of your report, where the time range ends, and where the facts of your report fit into the picture.

(b) Coverage in International Media: As explained in 3.2, your timeline will contain a chronological list of all the facts and analyses you have gathered, with links to the sources on the web. The sources will be among the local media publishing in one or more native languages, and possibly among the international media publishing in English. In this section you will give a summary of what has or has not been reported in the international media, and how their coverage compares with those in the local media.

To provide reference and links to the coverages you have found in international media, we recommend using the tables we have created for this purpose. These tables are intended as a list of all major international media organizations in the world. For the ones that have made no coverage related to your report we can mark NF (Not Found), and for the ones that have, we can show a footnote number. In the footnotes of the table, we can then copy the URL of the web page where the original coverage can be found. You will only need to send us the links to the sources' web pages, and we will add them to the html code of these tables that we will use to upload your report.

(c) Coverage in the Native Language Media: This section will become the main body of your report. As explained in 3.3 you will have a set of translated excerpts from the native-language media with links to the original sources. In this section of your report you will insert your translations in the chronological order that your timeline shows. You should connect your translated excerpts with a summary of what each one adds to what we know so far, and what will be the implications for the future.

(d) Conclusions: At this point you have reached the end of the time range of your report. In your introduction you have described the state of affairs at the beginning of the time range, and in the two following sections you have reported on what has happened since, until the end of the time range. Based on the facts you have reported, you can now describe the conditions at the end of your time range: what has changed, what has not changed, and as far as public interest and justice are concerned, what needs to change.

4.6. Impartial Reporter Only, or Analyst and Commentator Too?

At this point you have informed international audiences about certain matters of rights and justice for a certain group of people in your community, improvements on which would need changes in public policy and/or citizen choices and actions. To move forward from here, we need to know how we have got here. Looking at what you have reported up to this point and the chain of events and responses and reactions from the actors involved, you can now forget your native knowledge of the context and put yourself in the shoes of your international audiences in order to make an assessment about how good a picture your report would give them.

As we all know, all that happens in our world follows the rules of causes and effects. In the realm of nonhuman physical world these rules are explainable by natural sciences and understood by all of us regardless of social background. But when human actors have been involved, parts of the chains of causes and effects relationships may remain invisible. If so, we will need to rely on the assumption that reactions, responses and intentions of human actors may be explained and predicted based on their interests or past behaviour and expressions. If in your report you find that there are gaps that cannot be explained with reference to nonhuman actors, you can then try to find the explanations in involvement of human actors, in other words add context analysis.

Here too you would have better ability than your international audiences. This ability comes from your upbringing and personal experience, but also from the fact that you can research and interpret analyses of others as available in your native language. As always it is important that you aim to represent views of majorities of the stakeholders in your community as inclusively and completely as possible. To do so, it is again best to look to media rather than individuals, preferably media that best represent the largest socio-economic, cultural, ideological or politically affiliated constituencies in your community. If after searching for media sources you find that there are still gaps or unanswered questions, you should then look for evidence of past trends and behaviour, and state an opinion that can reasonably be based on these observations.

In expressing an opinion you should use vocabulary that clearly distinguishes it from a fact, for example with a phrase like "In my opinion", "they believe", "we consider" etc.

It is important to remember that in your analyses the original publication of coverages that you translate become events in themselves, and the media organizations become actors that have done so in response to other events. As such, you should try to put the coverages themselves in context too.

You will not need a separate section for context analysis in your report. Rather to make your story easier to follow it is preferable to add your interpretations anywhere they fit logically or chronologically.

If you have done context analysis in your report, you should also self-identify your social, ideological or political affiliations in your biography.

5. Publishing Your Report

You are now ready to send us your work. For written reports we need a text-only file (PDF preferred). For videos we need the digital file or files. We will also need URLs of all your sources and proof of identification of the lead author (A government-issued photo ID is preferred.)

We will review your work and check its consistency with these guidelines. If we find that changes may be needed, we will discuss them with you. Decisions about any editions will be yours. When we are all in agreement about your work, we will upload it and link or present it on our social media.

Our email address is worldmediainenglish.org[at]gmail[dot]com.