French Paper goes Multi-Lingual, Using Automatic Translation (July 11, 2009) — The leading French business newspaper, La Tribune is launching a multi-lingual version of its website using automatic translation, dispensing with journalists but producing often comic results.

la tribuneThe paper’s aim is to offer business news in different languages to reach a new public on the Internet. It involves the French website being translated in real time by computer software into English, German, Spanish and Italian, with Japanese and Chinese to come by the end of the year.

Britain’s BBC has an entirely different model for the news website it provides in 30 different languages, staffed by hundreds of journalists, and says it has no plans to cut costs by following La Tribune’s lead.

Some of the BBC’s online content was translated, but that this was always done by journalists.

In Spain, the EFE news agency has been using computers for years to translate Spanish copy into Portuguese and Catalan. But all the copy is revised by editors before being published. This system is possible because Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan are similar languages.

The whole point is that if you want news that has a resonance, you want journalists.

La Tribune currently has one person dealing with the foreign language sites and plans to soon hire another person to tweak the English-language articles, said Astrid Arbey, head of new media at the La Tribune.

The quality of the foreign-language sites is really mediocre because there is no journalistic intervention, the sites may damage the image of La Tribune, which in France has a reputation as a serious newspaper aimed at the banking, financial and business world.

4 thoughts on “French Paper goes Multi-Lingual, Using Automatic Translation

  • July 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    They must be kidding. The results of machine translation are not medicre but very poor. I can hardly believe that a newspaper agrees to risk its reputation and brand. They could have picked a web 2.0 translation service (such as to translate their news instead. The difference between a human translator and a robot is still too big.

  • July 12, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Quote: The whole point is that if you want news that has a resonance, you want journalists.

    Most readers want information that they can understand. I think that newspapers have the following choice:

    * Make text interesting from a literary perspective. Machine translation will not give satisfactory translations.

    * Provide clear text. Possibly, from a literary perspective, the text is boring. Machine translation will give satisfactory translations (

  • July 12, 2009 at 8:00 am

    That’s ridiculous, I’m pretty sure they will soon remove this “feature”.

  • July 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I humbly offer to volunteer to tweak their English language articles for them. All I ask is a modest salary and an apartment in Marseilles. And moving compensation. And two or three hot lady assistants. 😉

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