Ethics of Media Interpreting in the Arab World: The Simultaneous Interpreting of Al-Jazeera News Outlet as Example


To increase viewer numbers, Arab news outlets establish codes of ethics based, of course, on media laws and regulations declared by the League of Arab States. The Arab audience can directly assess the degree to which these codes are upheld and adhered to if coverage is in Arabic. Nevertheless, coverage may indicate texts or utterances that are delivered in a foreign language such as English. On these occasions, the only way through which the audience can access the source text is the translation or/and interpretation provided by the outlets. Therefore, s/he may mistakenly believe that the production of these renderings fully corresponds to the outlet’s stated code of ethics. This article will challenge this conception with special reference to simultaneous interpreting of political discourse provided by Al-Jazeera. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’, it reveals the contradiction between Al-Jazeera’s code of ethics and the actual performance of its interpreters. It suggests that the dispositions that interpreters accumulate, as a result of being under the pressure of the outlet’s agendas, are the determinants of interpreting decisions. In other words, institutional codes of ethics have no or little impact on the transparency of the produced target texts.