On January 27, 2009, the South Asian Journalists
Association, The Southern Asian Institute and The New York Press Club co-hosted
a debate on editorial outsourcing to India. "Outsourcing News:
Boon or Boondoggle" brought together panelists who supported and
opposed the growing trend of shifting media jobs to India
James Macpherson, one of the panelists and publisher of
PasadenaNow.com, made headlines for his website’s use of India-based journalists.
In November, Maureen Dowd profiled him in an article titled, “A Penny for my
thoughts?” and in 2007 over 30 major publications covered his decision to begin
hiring journalists in India
to cover Pasadena
On the opposing side, it was panelist Anthony Ramirez, a 19-year New York Times veteran that was most vocal about his enmity to editorial outsourcing, who referred to Macpherson and the other panelists as, “Lucifer and his minions.” Bruce Lambert, 21-year Times veteran and Phil Pilato, editor and news writer for 1010 WINS radio also sat by side in opposition to the idea.
The idea of sending editorial procedures to India is controversial because of the implications it has for job loss and media quality. However it is also a business model that succeeds in many industries, like we are now seeing in the media business. The difference is this trend now affects the same people who provided previous news of outsourcing directly—the people in media.
“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable,” Ramirez said, quoting the famous comments made by Stewart Brand in 1984, “The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other,” Ramirez said, completing the quote.
Reuters, one of the largest news wire companies in the
world, made getting their news out more cost-effective by opening up a major
bureau in Bangalore, India
So how do transnational offices stay connected? Berkeley,
the CEO of Express KCS, maintains quality and constant communication between
his Indian and British offices by installing communication software on all
computers. Property Finder Publishing, one of his clients, is a publication out
of London whose layout and production is
completed in India
The event ended amicably, with panelists shaking hands and agreeing that the issue of editorial outsourcing to India is ripe for more debate.