Monday, January 19, 2015

Found in translation: WorldMeets.US goes global

Found in translation

WorldMeets.US is a Web site that translates content about the US from
newspapers around the globe, offering Americans a look at how they are
seen by other nations

For New York native William Kern, working as a copy editor, page designer and foreign desk editor at the Taipei Times 15 years ago influenced his decision to launch an international news translation service. Based in Rockaway Queens, it serves to challenge Americans by presenting them with an alternative narrative to the mainstream media.

Kern says his interest in global affairs led to a university internship with the U.N. Environment Program and a keen interest in global environmental affairs. While his time at the International Herald Tribune also impacted his decision to launch the service - the seeds were sown in Taiwan.


Kern is now focused on the Worldmeets.US Web site, which was set up as an educational non-profit to better educate the American people.

Since 2005 he and his team have been translating content about the United States from newspapers around the globe -- Le Monde in Paris, Sotal Iraq in Iraq, Corriere della Sera in Rome and La Jornada in Mexico - to give Americans a glimpse of how the world sees America.

"My time at the Taipei Times was critical to my career," he said in an e-mail.

"The Taipei Times was created as a great experiment in Western newspapering in a Chinese-speaking country. Almost the entire editorial staff was drawn from around the world to put out a newspaper that would cover one of [Asia's] great metropolises in the Western style - and it was a very exciting time."

In 2002, Kern was a news editor and page designer for the International Herald Tribune based in Paris. He returned to New York in 2003.


After his experience abroad, Kern felt he wanted to create a Drudge-like Web site with daily coverage of what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S.

"That's how Worldmeets.US was born," he said. "But I quickly realized that in order to do this properly, we had to translate huge amounts of content into English."

It was at this point that Kern came up with the concept of what he calls "trans-copy editing."

"It's a system for checking the accuracy of translated copy into multiple languages," he said.

Kern says his ultimate goal when Worldmeet.US began was to create a wave of citizen diplomacy and a global community that promotes peace, cross-cultural understanding between Americans and people of other nations. Since then things have taken on a slightly darker pallor.

Kern brings to the site over a decade of experience as a journalist and editor in Taiwan, France and the United States.

"If there is one thing my time at the Taipei Times and my life abroad taught me, it is that Americans reading or watching the mainstream media alone can never and will never develop any level of sophistication in terms of understanding the world we live in or how our country fits into it," Kern said. "Our news media are governed by the interests of the conglomerates that own the networks and news outlets and by selling products - often the products and entertainment programming of the companies that own the networks."

"As someone who cut my teeth shredding China's state-run media from my desk at the Taipei Times, I am sorry to say that our media is only marginally better in terms providing information to citizens of a republic," Kern added.


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