Reporting from a foreign country is never easy, especially when you don’t know the local language. It becomes even more difficult when the so-called universal language, English, doesn’t comes handy at all.
In Russia, I’ve faced a major difficulty with the language because no one speaks English. But I’ve managed to get by and so far have been able to do most of my reporting. I’d say it’s all about finding ways to get the job done.
When I was sure about coming here, all I had was a story idea. I didn’t have any clue about how would I pursue that story. A month later, I see it materializing.
In a lot of ways, social networking, and Facebook to be particular, has become very helpful. One status update can make this happens in reality.
When I seek help through Facebook asking for connections in Russia, I got a fair number of responses—some worked, others didn’t.
I contacted those random people, friends of friends of friends. I should consider myself lucky that they have been a great help. Though they said they weren’t the right people, they surely helped me to get tons of contacts for my story.
And of course, I had done my research and found sources. I emailed all of them. I emailed them to the point that they might have been sick of seeing my name in their inbox. But that’s how it works.
As of now, I have been able to interview people—some in person and some via Skype. But at least I had it all sorted out.
Going to meet people in a new city where none of the signs are in English was a bit tricky. I was a bit sceptical navigating, but I did it.
Just a few more interview, and I’m ready to file that story.
Russia is one of those countries where language has served as a major barrier for reporting. But when you are determined, I think it’s not that big of a challenge; you just find ways to accomplish your assignment.
But I’d say it was definitely easier being a part of a news organization and going for reporting assignments in foreign land. As a freelancer, it becomes a little more challenging. However, overcoming those challenges is a part of the job, and nothing is satisfying to see that story materialize; that story, which was only an idea at the beginning.