Lost in translation
A few days ago there was a bomb drama in Sweden (no-one died). BBC World ran a story about it with TV footage from the Swedish news. As an eyewitness made a statement BBC voiced over a translation and I thought it didn't sound right... something to effect of him being terrified, thinking about moving to another part of town and it was scary with terrorists so close to home.
In the Swedish news, the exact same footage was shown without voice over and what he really said was something like it was a little bit unsettling because he visited a friend and they could see the drama from the window - end.
And this set off a huge debate about standards on the BBC.
I think I got to the bottom of it. In short, we made a mistake (for which we should apologise), but it's not as bad as it was made out to be. The interview with the eyewitness was sent to us in Swedish, with text of the English translation. It said...
Reporter - Are you worried?
Eyewitness - Yes, I have friends who live just above and I was there and saw the guy. I pity the man, he seems mentally ill, its nothing else.
Reporter - What will you do now?
Eyewitness - I am thinking of moving away, the terrorists have come here too it seems. I don't know, I don't think it's a terrorist, something is wrong with this society.
What we did then was to confuse the two answers - the part of the interview we used was the first answer, but the English translation we added was the second answer. So the eyewitness did talk about terrorists - we just didn't use the right bit.
The lesson for us is to find someone to listen back to these things before we put them on air.