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Why a New York Times Exposé Is Published in Four Languages

source:未知 Editor:supermanTime:2015-05-30 12:26

New York Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir took an unusual approach to an investigation of the exploitation of nail salon workers. Instead of working in English, Nir assembled a team of translators and interpreters to investigate the story in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and English—the languages most commonly spoken by the salon workers. Over the course of a year, the interpreters on Nirs team interviewed 125 salon workers. Many more refused to talk. The use of interpreters, although costly, became crucial in establishing trust. The translators working on the project reviewed court cases and foreign language newspapers looking for reports of underpayment and abusive working conditions. What Nir and her team discovered was made all the more shocking by its ordinariness: there is a nail salon on every corner, in every mall, and never a thought that anything could be wrong. Yet, there is. Salon workers are paid as little as $1.50 per hour and often work 24-hour shifts. They frequently share small apartments with 10 to 12 co-workers. It is not unusual for a worker to pay a $100 training fee in order to get the job, and then work without pay for months before the salon owner decides they are qualified enough to receive a salary. One unexpected finding of the investigation further emphasized the value of working a story in multiple languages. By comparing the interviews across all four languages, Nir discovered that ethnic discrimination plays a huge role in the nail salon industry: Korean speakers earn 15% to 25% more and in general are treated better than either Chinese or Spanish-peakers. This aspect of the story would never have come to light if Nir had focused on only one language group to the exclusion of the other two. The decision to use translators and interpreters in the investigation turned out to be invaluable.

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