Making a difference? Independent online media translations of the 2004 beslan hostage disaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


With increasingly fewer independent media outlets operating in the Russia Federation over the past decade, the Internet is one of the rare remaining sites where alternatives to mainstream news and opinion can be voiced. In spite of repeated government interference and, in some cases, prosecution, fringe media websites connected to non-governmental organizations, grassroots civic movements and separatist factions have developed into persistent, if marginalized, media alternatives. This paper examines the online reportage and translations generated in response to the 2004 hostage-taking in Beslan published by 'non-professionals' on two websites, using a case study approach and drawing on socionarrative theory. It discusses the elements and characteristics of these fringe narratives that distinguish them as significant alternatives to the mainstream, contrasting the Beslan narratives constructed by the two independent sites with those elaborated by a large, mainstream Russian news agency. It then considers the translations of this material into English to determine the extent to which the specific features that characterize the alternative narratives are also present in translation. The study finds that the restricted use of translation on these websites led to the reinforcement of simplistic, reductionist narratives and weakened or eliminated the more complex and multivalent alternative ones that had been present in the Russian originals. It concludes by considering how 'non-professional' translators might avoid a similar outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-361
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • Narrative
  • News translation
  • North caucasus
  • Online media
  • Russia
  • Violent conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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