Sunday, May 13, 2007

When they outsource your job, who writes the article about it?

CNN today posts a head-throbbing story about outsourcing local news reporting to India.

James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the two-year-old Web site, acknowledged it sounds strange to have journalists in India cover news in this wealthy city just outside Los Angeles.

But he said it can be done from afar now that weekly Pasadena City Council meetings can be watched over the Internet. And he said the idea makes business sense because of India's lower labor costs.

"I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications," said the 51-year-old Pasadena native. "Whether you're at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you're still just a phone call or e-mail away from the interview."

You can toss a dart at that quote and hit something problematic. City council meetings? Really? It's too expensive to cover them?I mean seriously, now we've got to outsource the kinds of jobs the unpaid interns used to get?

Of course, the idea isn't new. And, of course, it comes from the business press. And of course, it means that things will only get worse.

This is not the first time media jobs have been shipped to India.

The British news agency Reuters runs an operation in the technology capital of Bangalore that churns out Wall Street stories based on news releases.

And with that we appear to be at the logical end of the illogical moves that have happened as journalism becomes just another job: First you capitulate to the advertisers by rewriting their press releases as news stories; once you've done that, it's not long before you realize you can pay someone overseas cents on the dollar to do the same thing. Worthless news stories begets news reporting that's worth less.

(found via Crooks & Liars)


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