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Friday, November 24, 2006

Outsourcing hits a new class of workers: Journalists

The long arm of 'offshoring' reaches into the news industry

By Doreen Carvajal / International Herald Tribune

PARIS: The rush of job recruiting ads on MonsterIndia.com tells the story of the latest class of workers to watch their trade start migrating to another continent.

"Urgent requirement for business writers," reads one ad looking for journalists to locate in Mumbai. "Should be willing to work in night shifts (UK shift)."

Another casts for English-speaking journalists in Bangalore with "experience in editing and writing for US/International Media."

Remote-control journalism is the scornful term that unions use for the shift of newspaper jobs to low-cost countries like India or Singapore with fiber-optic connections transmitting information all around the world.

But the momentum for "offshoring" to other countries or outsourcing locally is accelerating as newspapers small and large seek ways to reduce costs in the face of severe stresses, from sagging circulation and advertising revenue to shareholder pressure.

"Outsourcing plays a major part in the newspaper industry of today," the World Association of Newspapers concluded in a study released in July.

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1 comment:

Kanani said...

When I traveled to India, there were two pressmen from Germany who were there to show the workers how to run the presses. I think the India Times had bought new equipment from the German company they worked for.

I remember traveling around, seeing names of companies I was familiar with --GE, AT&T, Electrolux. There were also groups of young men standing outside an engineering school, or an information technology school everywhere I went.

Interestingly, while our middle class shrinks, India has one of the largest growing middle classes. One of the first outsourcing companies is Office Tiger, which was founded by two US-born graduates of Dartmouth. They found a pool of educated, literate and eager workers and hired them. They now do everything from transcription work to the infamous call-centers. In fact, I even met one gentleman who had a perfect US Southern accent. He'd been sent from New Delhi to Georgia for a year by AT&T International and to work and learn. In the meanwhile he perfected his accent. His job was to train call center workers in Delhi... and to us, he's "Joe" when we call in on the phone.

As for journalists, it doesn't surprise me. The news,while getting more global, is also more homogenous. I think that's a problem for those of us who want local news. While we want to know what's going on in the world, it's essential that we keep abreast of what's happening in our cities. ESPECIALLY with things like bureaucracies... schools, governments, hospitals, --all the things that affect us right now.

So this move to outsource journalism has a very definite downside when it comes to local news. As long as bureaucrats think no one cares and no one is covering those stories.... they'll get away with a lot more than they already have.