Calif. Web site outsources reporting
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  1. #1
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    Default Calif. Web site outsources reporting

    Calif. Web site outsources reporting
    Associated Press Writer Thu May 10, 5:51 PM ET

    PASADENA, Calif. - The job posting was a head-scratcher: "We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA."

    A reporter half a world away covering local street-light contracts and sewer repairs? A reporter who has never gotten closer to Pasadena than the telecast of the Rose Bowl parade?

    Outsourcing first claimed manufacturing jobs, then hit services such as technical support, airline reservations and tax preparation. Now comes the next frontier: local journalism.

    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."

    The first articles, some of which will carry bylines, are slated to appear Friday.

    The plan has its doubters.
    "Nobody in their right mind would trust the reporting of people who not only don't know the institutions but aren't even there to witness the events and nuances," said Bryce Nelson, a University of Southern California journalism professor and Pasadena resident. "This is a truly sad picture of what American journalism could become."

    It is a shaky business proposition as well, said Uday Karmarkar, a UCLA professor of technology and strategy who outsources copy editing and graphics work to Indian businesses. If the goal is sophisticated reporting, he said, Macpherson could end up spending more time editing than the labor savings are worth.

    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.

    Macpherson appears to be the first to outsource community journalism — work that by definition has been done by reporters who walk the streets they cover.

    Macphersons said his Web site, which he runs out of his house, gets about 45,000 unique readers per month but is not yet profitable. Up until now, his main help has consisted of his wife and an intern.

    Macpherson posted the help-wanted ad Monday on the Indian edition of Within days, he said, he had hired two Indian reporters, one a graduate of the journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley.

    He wants them to broaden's content from news releases and event listings to analyses of issues before the council, and perhaps eventually to investigative reports.

    Projected annual cost: $20,800 for the pair. Not bad wages for an Indian journalist and cheap by U.S. standards, especially if each one produces the expected 15 weekly articles.

    Pasadena city spokeswoman Ann Erdman said coverage from afar shouldn't pose problems if the articles are well-edited. In any case, she said, "Local government is certainly not in the practice of dictating to local business who they can hire and where those employees should live."
    Associated Press Writer Matthew Rosenberg in New Delhi, India, contributed to this report.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Hang 'Em High
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    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post
    "Nobody in their right mind would trust the reporting of people who not only don't know the institutions but aren't even there to witness the events and nuances," said Bryce Nelson, a University of Southern California journalism professor and Pasadena resident. "This is a truly sad picture of what American journalism could become."
    Nelson is wrong in believing that actually witnessing an event guarantees responsible journalism, nor does it provide sympathy for nuance. Watch your local "news" team and it's "If it bleeds, it leads" concept of a story's importance, not to mention the dubious habit of asking those whom have suffered an unconscienable loss "How they feel" about it.

    A truly sad representation of what American journalism has become is the ridiculous coverage of events leading up to and during the Iraq situation, the mindless parroting of White House press releases as if they were somehow the gospel truth with no regard to questioning the contents, the cowardly compliance with this current government's agenda due to fear of reprisal, and most despicable of all, having lost any resemblance of a trustworthy, free and balanced press that the people of this country could depend on and believe in.

    Who is to say an outside source will not do a superior job? After all, AOL tech support works so well this way.
    Last edited by chefcraig; 05.11.07 at 12:40 PM.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
    George Bernard Shaw

  3. #3
    Big Bad Bill

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    Right on Chef.

    I know we are all about the cash, but I don't know if I see this trend continuing (press in India). Can you really control the press (like a certain previously mentioned administration wants to) if you are that far away?

    So what if you stop using them as a source (folks from India) for news? They'll just go get a job doing collections for CitiBank.

    P.S. I'll back off a bit on my hit on the current administration. Unfortunately, they all want to control the media because there isn't one that is or will be a "fair and balanced" administration.



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