U.S. newspapers, which are hemorrhaging readership, ad revenue and staffers, are dealing with the issue of outsourcing various aspects of their operations.
Speaking at a gathering of the Southern Newspapers Publishers Association in October, Dean Singleton, CEO of the MediaNews Group (The Denver Post, The Detroit News and 52 other daily newspaper), suggested publishers should look at outsourcing more closely:
"In today's world, whether your desk is down the hall or around the world, from a computer standpoint, it doesn't matter," Singleton said after his speech. <snip>
Singleton said sending copyediting and design jobs overseas may even be called for.
"One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews ... maybe even offshore," he said during the speech.
Other publishers also have consolidated newsroom functions this year. Two Florida papers owned by The New York Times Co. said in August they were merging news and copy desk functions, design, layout and pagination. The McClatchy Co. papers in Raleigh and Charlotte, are sharing sports and political reporting staff.
But few have sent newsroom functions overseas, limiting off-shoring mostly to ad production and other non-editorial functions, said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc.
Notable exceptions are Thomson Reuters, which has been using journalists in Bangalore, India, to handle some basic news such as corporate earnings reports, and a website called pasadenanow.com, which has five regular contributors overseas who write about Pasadena, Calif., using webcasts of council meetings and information provided by citizen volunteers.
Meanwhile, Ken Doctor, quoted above, wrote some more about this:
Well, Bay Area News Group (BANG) staffers decided Dean's words needed illustration. They created a new map showing the familiar newspaper titles, including the once-proud San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and Marin Independent-Journal (with the Santa Cruz Sentinel written in) spread across the western India states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, the latter the state dominated by Mumbai, a major outsourcing center.
Here it is, in all its glory, photographed from one of its postings on a newspaper bulletin board.
At US papers, outsourcing of ad production has reached major proportions. Finance outsourcing is in process, and yes, newspapers are looking at what can't be done by lower-paid, English speakers.
Though farther-flung circulation is still being cut back at the dailies -- that's still publishers' favorite explanation for plummeting circulation -- maybe the move of the nameplates could be a smart counter-intuitive strategy.
After all, in India, newspaper readership keeps going up.
He also ran these stats from the World Association of Newspapers 2008 Trends report:
74 of the world’s 100 best selling dailies are published in Asia. China, Japan and India account for 62 of them.
The five largest markets for newspapers are: China, with 107 million copies sold daily; India, with 99 million copies daily; Japan, with 68 million copies daily; the United States, with nearly 51 million; and Germany, 20.6 million.
Indian newspaper sales increased 11.22 percent in 2007 and 35.51 percent in the five-year period.
OnJuly 9, 2008, WNYC Radio's "The Takeaway" ran a segment on the topic of outsourcing to India (listen to the segment at that link):
Guests: Brayden Simms, copy editor for the Miami Herald in Miami, Fla., Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Harsh Dutta, co-founder of Content Writing India in New Delhi.
Poynter's Clark wrote a follow-up column, "From Rim Editor to Ram the Editor":
I was interviewed on this topic recently for a public radio program in New York City called "The Takeaway" with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji.
The conversation featured a 26-year-old American copy editor, Hayden Simms, whose bright eyes and bushy tail could not protect him from a Miami Herald pink slip. The premise of the program was that Simms lost his copy editing job to India and its pool of cheaper labor.
On the line with me was Harsh Dutta, a gracious and highly intelligent man from India and co-founder of Content Writing India in New Delhi, which runs a copy editing service for clients across the world, including newspapers in the U.S. of A.
Dutta admitted that Indian copy editors were trained in "the Queen's English" and had to be schooled in the peculiarities of the American idiom. I have no doubt that our copy editing colleagues in India have enough language competence to learn the difference between labor and labour and to put the comma inside quotations marks, thank you. Language, syntax, spelling and idioms are all important, but are beside the point.
Read his full piece here.
Earlier on SAJAforum:
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