It happened yesterday. Within 24 hours, we received cases from Italy, Slovakia and Mexico — in Italian, Slovak and Spanish. I knew then that the advocacy had reached an inflection point.
Now and then we’ll get a case in French or Spanish. But this felt different. It was as if the search engines finally understood that when we say we’ll help everyone, we really mean everyone.
I don’t know if we can handle an onslaught of international cases. But I know what we have to do. It won’t be easy, but with your help I’m sure we can get there.
Brushing up on language skills
My advocacy team and I have been working in English and all of our forms are in English. That will need to change. We’ll be creating multi-lingual help forms to assist all of our readers.
I’m going to try to learn as much Spanish as I can, so that I’m not always reaching for Google Translate. I need to salvage my French (four years in high school, but not much to show for it) and German (I used to speak it natively but I haven’t used it in 20 years).
I’m also planning a listening tour of Europe and Latin America next year, so I can better gauge the needs of our readers there.
How you can help
If you speak a second language, or if you’re interested in helping with this project as a volunteer, please let me know. You don’t have to speak another language to participate.
Here’s how we would put your skills to good use:
First, we’ll ask you to fill out our standard volunteer form.
All new volunteers start by advocating cases in our help forums. There, our senior advocates have a chance to see how you interact with people.
From there, we’ll recruit you into one of our departments — advocacy, editing, newsletters, or writing. Many advocates like it in the forums so much, they decide to stay. That’s fine, too.
If you want to help our nonprofit consumer advocacy organization as we expand internationally, please let me know. I’d love to work with you.
Is this the future of our journalism?
Maybe there’s a future for advocacy journalism after all. So far, I’ve been focused on U.S. newspapers for my syndication efforts. But what if our advocacy had no borders? Could we expand to Canada or England? What about France or Germany?
I’ve been thinking about ways to ensure our survival — and this may be it.
I’m as serious about helping everyone as I’ve ever been. This could be a way to sustain consumer advocacy for the next generation. I’m really excited about it.
This week’s stories
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How to survive the first day of your vacation
If you can answer “yes” to the eternal question, “Are we there yet?” then you probably need a survival manual for the first day of vacation. The 24 hours after you arrive are among the busiest and most stressful — the unpacking and settling in, the arguing, and the inevitable chaos.
These tips will help you survive your vacation countdown
It’s T-minus 12 hours before we leave. In some ways, it’s the worst part of the vacation countdown. Everything’s half-done. Millions of other travelers will experience the same thing this summer in the agonizing hours and minutes before their departure.
Norwegian Airlines promised to refund his train tickets to London. Then it didn’t
When Norwegian Airlines cancels Andrew Brown’s flight, it rebooks him and promises to reimburse his train tickets to his final destination. Then it changes course. Is he out of luck?
She didn’t order NFL Sunday Ticket. Refund, please!
When Christine Beach cuts her CenturyLink service, she discovers a mysterious fee for NFL Sunday Ticket. Why won’t the company help her remove the charge?
Travel can be unpredictable — here’s how to cope
Travel can be unpredictable. At least that’s what Socrates Anastasiadis will tell you when you ask him about his recent Vantage River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam. When he arrived in Switzerland, the cruise line dropped some bad news on him: Because of low water levels on the Rhine, part of his cruise had turned into a bus tour.