Why facts matter when reporting the news, and why getting translations right matters too.

First published in October 2019.

This is an example of how news gets lost in translation.

Kay Burley and a Sky News correspondent reported on Thursday afternoon that a knife-wielding employee who shot dead colleagues at the Central Police HQ in Paris was aged 20.

That was not correct. The attacker was in fact 45 years old.

Kay Burley. / Sky News - Kay Burley Show

We know that because the French Minister of Interior, Christopher Castaner, said it in a press conference he gave after the attack took place in Paris. And it was profusely reported in the French media.

"The attacker, aged 45, never showed any behaviour issues." / France Info

Not only was Sky News giving the wrong information live on air to its audience, it was also spreading it online at skynews.com, reporting the attacker as “a 20-year-old administrator”.


In the meantime, the BBC got it right – for once, some will say...

BBC News reported the attacker as being a 45-year-old man. / bbc.co.uk

Why the mistake, then?

Very likely a piece of information that got lost in translation... literally.

The union official Sky News referred to actually told French media that the attacker had been working for the Central Police HQ “for over 20 years”.

But he never mentioned his age.

The Minister did...

According to union official Loic Travers, "He is an colleague working in admin, who worked here for over 20 years..." / France Info

If facts matter when reporting the news, getting translations right matters too.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com on 3 October 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Pixabay.)