There has been increasing discussion about the importance of source audits and making sure quoted experts reflect the community, but just as important is the other end of the reporting process: making sure engagement strategies reach underserved audiences.
Translation is one way to do so-and translation goes far beyond the obvious examples of big newsrooms translating their content into Spanish or French. We'd like to spotlight three creative examples of translation that help journalism connect with a wide variety of people:
Reaching out to the Indigenous community. Honolulu Civil Beat has a special section that translates one article a week into Hawaiian in order to better connect with and represent Indigenous readers. (The idea was born out of a meeting at ONA20!) The translations for this project, called Ka Ulana Pilina, are done by experts from the University of Hawaii, and Civil Beat also hopes to add columnists that will write in Hawaiian and be translated into English. 'Bilingualism shows inclusiveness, and in this case especially, inclusion of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi stories on this platform shows a respect for the host culture of this place and its language, and also shows an investment in the fate of the language as well as an awareness of the politics surrounding language revitalization,' said Ha'alilio Solomon, a translator helping with the project.
Accessibility is a form of audience engagement too. For a special package on the Americans With Disabilities Act, the New York Times created an audio version for every article in the package and crafted special alt-text. The section was made available in Braille,both digitally and in a hard copy version distributed by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. While a Braille version of each article may not be feasible for every newsroom, there are other simple ways to make a publication more accessible, which means reaching more readers.
Thinking about the reading needs of the audience. Last November, ProPublica published an investigation into challenges faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Arizona. Then it published the same article in plain language so that people with these disabilities could easily comprehend the story. That way, the story could be for them instead of simply about them.
P.S. Check out this recent Global Voices event about revitalizing Indigenous languages online. Activists from Australia and Mexico discussed using digital technologies to enhance the learning and promotion of their languages.
We're always on the lookout for helpful resources and tips. If you have other examples to share, please reply directly to this email.