Rather than expecting the world to adopt English as the international language of web news, online publishers are likely to demand more multi-lingual journalists, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

"Our impression is that the need for translation is actually increasing," said Dr Joy Sisley, lecturer and research fellow for the Translation in Global News project at the University of Warwick.

"Obviously publishers need to balance what is local and what is global news, but our initial hypothesis is that translation can be a way of maximising markets."

The Translation in Global News project was established in September 2003 to explore the role of translation in the production of global news. The project is holding a one-day symposium on 23 April to include Eric Wishart, editor-in-chief of Agence France Press, and Reuters Treasury editor Anthony Williams.

Translation presents significant technical problems for web publishers, many of which will be debated at the symposium. As well as translating the meaning of the text, multi-language sites must be able to present different alphabets and formatting conventions - such as Arabic-language sites that would need to read from right to left.

News publishers are often deterred from publishing news in multiple languages because of the cost. Automated translation tools do not yet provide accurate enough results, which means that news must still be manually translated.

"Within big news organisations, there is often the view that translation is too important to leave to translators - they prefer to employ multi-lingual journalists," said Dr Sisley.

The symposium is the first event in the three-year project. Future events are likely to explore the relationship between news translation and new technologies, and the use of translation in coverage of terrorism.

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