How do you track Russian language news from South Ossetia without reading Russian?

Here’s one way to try and follow the South Ossetia story in Russian if you can’t read Russian. I touch on these methods when I teach the Track Breaking News Online courses each month in London. We’ll do all this by using a combination of online translation tools and RSS feeds. Firstly, find a number of keywords in cryllic i.e.

"РЕСПУБЛИКА ЮЖНАЯ ОСЕТИЯ" – Republic of South Ossetia
"РЕСПУБЛИКӔ ХУССАР ИРБІСТОН"  Republic of South Ossetia (in Ossetian) link
"Хуссар Ирыстон"
"Южная Осетия" – South Ossetia link
Цхинвал – Чъреба – Tskhinvali – link

  1. Go to the Russian version of Google Blog search (in cryllic) and paste one of the key words/phrases above into the search box. Copy the resulting RSS feed from the button on the left hand side of the search results page e.g. here’s the search for for Цхинвал and here’s the RSS feed.
  2. Next, we need to translate the feed into English. Mloovi can translate RSS feeds into 24 languages. Copy the RSS feed from Google Blog search into Mloovi and select Russian to English. e.g. above results are tranlsated here and here’s the resulting RSS feed. Paste the feed into your RSS newsreader.
  3. Go through the same process with blog search engine Technorati and Twitter search and Google News Russian – Google News Russian aggregates 400 Russian language news sources. Grab the resulting RSS feeds from these three searches, send then through Mloovi and paste into your newsreader.
  4. LiveJournal is one of the most popular blogging tools in Russia. Most blog search engines do not scan LiveJournal. Instead you can use, a LiveJournal search engine, to search on keywords and grab the RSS feed and send to Mloovi.
  5. Too much donkey work??? – Global Voices has a number of native cryllic speakers filtering much of this information, specifically the blogosphere and they have a Special South Ossetia crisis page.

Some issues:

Mloovi does a great job of feeding information to you. However, it only translates excerpts. If you click "view original" within Mloovi you’re back to cryllic. Same thing goes if you click through to the original article from your RSS reader.
As it stands, if the excerpt is interesting enough you have to copy the url for the blog post or news item and paste it into Google Translate to understand the whole post. If Mloovi plugged the "click to read more" results directly through Google Translate it would save a lot of time. As it stands this is quite a laborious process.

Using very, very specific keywords in cryllic might help. Places and names and specific cryllic phrases relating to the conflcit might also work well. Make sure you "anchor the phrase" with speechmarks.

Chris Vallance at BBC Radio 5 Live has more advice on finding sources in the conflict.

Hattip to Mike for Mloovi tip.