Enter Google Translate: Interested in local Syrian coverage of anti-government riots? How the Japanese are celebrating their recent World Cup victory? Just click and translate.I wish more people would be doing this; I've been doing it for years but I haven't seen the groundswell of others doing it as much as the article implies.
Of course, the system is not perfect, but the machine translation site, which was first introduced for Arabic, has opened up the media and broken down global barriers in a way which was previously not possible. While the statistical method that the site uses to translate text, which means that grammatical rules are not applied, can at times render text almost unintelligible, by and large it means we can read news in languages that we don’t know a word of, which changes the game in a significant way.
Not only from Arabic, either. For a while on Friday I was looking at Norwegian papers and tweeting details about the attacks on the youth camp way before the mainstream media had picked up on it.
It takes a bit of practice to get good at understanding the translated text, and even more practice to figure out how to do things like searches in the target language, but it is worth it. I recommend using Chrome as a browser because the Google Translate extension usually makes language translation seamless, and it works even for search results within websites (something that AFAIK cannot be done with any other browser.)