“Euronews contributes to the construction of Europe”

Article published on June 20, 2005
Article published on June 20, 2005

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

In an interview with café babel, Nicola Assetta, editor in chief of EuroNews, explains the importance of multilingualism in the media and what difficulties it poses.

“EuroNews tries to respect the linguistic and journalistic peculiarities of Europe,” explains Nicola Assetta, editor in chief of EuroNews. Broadcasting news 24 hours a day since 1993, its programmes are characterised by the use of many languages and its European perspective in an attempt, as Assetta puts it, “to construct Europe”.

What does it really mean for EuroNews to report transnational information in many languages?

For EuroNews to be spearheading the use of many languages is important. Thanks to the seven language versions (Italian, French, English, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) of our programme, we can represent seven nationalities, seven cultures and seven points of view. Our news programme is not European just because it gives information about Europe, but above all because it gives a European perspective, thanks to the contribution of all our editors.

What is the most important consideration when presenting multilinguistic information?

The principle consideration is that every different version of the news programme has the same editorial line. We try to respect the linguistic and journalistic peculiarities of Europe whilst maintaining the integrity of the information, which should be equal in every language. Obviously, this stimulates debates in the editing office; it is a place of confrontations and clashes between the various cultures.

Could you give an example?

Well, the case of Gibraltar: the views of an English journalist are different compared with those of a Spanish journalist. We attempt to expose the points that are legitimate and objective. On the one hand, the English believe that Gibraltar is a legitimate overseas territory of the UK acquired by referendum, whereas the Spanish believe that it is a relic of the colonial era. EuroNews tries to find a meeting point between confrontation and synthesis; our way of informing people is also a way of contributing to the construction of Europe.

Are there differences between the information in the different versions?

The editing office is made up of different linguistic teams, but the editorial line of the news programmes is decided by the editor in chief, the vice-editor and the editorial director, assisted by various heads of department. In contrast to the job of a ‘normal’ editing office, the images are put together first and the commentaries are written afterwards, independently for each linguistic version. It is not the case that one article is translated into the other languages, but that every journalist writes their own article using the same sources as the others.

There must be, in that case, differences, even if they are small, in the items published

Yes, for example, on the question of the referendum in Italy on artificial insemination, the approach of the Italian editor was different to that of the German editor. Also, concerning the EU budget and the Franco-German vs. British perspectives, certain linguistic version accorded more importance to certain details than others.

How has EuroNews been received by the European public, with what results?

If you consider the means and budget at our disposal, we have got results in pretty much all respects. In Europe we surpass every other transnational television company such as the BBC or CNN. Surely the use of many languages is the reason for our success. The second reason is that on an international level, we are the only alternative to the Anglo-American monopoly.

In 2001 you launched the Russian version of EuroNews. With the enlargement of the EU to include 10 new countries, have you considered enlarging the number of different languages you deal with?

We were motivated editorially and by the budget to launch a Russian version. The Russian TV company RH controls 16% of EuroNews, which allowed us to share the costs of the creation of a new edition. Last year EuroNews was the only news programme transmitting in Russia to show pictures of the slaughter at Beslan. Anyone who has satellite TV can access the CNN or BBC news services, but EuroNews is the only programme to transmit directly in Russian. In regard to expanding to languages of the new EU countries, there are agreements at the moment with both Romania (due to enter the EU in 2007) and the Czech Republic. These two countries don’t have a full version of the news programme, but three times a day a version is transmitted in Romanian and Czech (as translated by our in house translators) thanks to certain agreements.