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Well, this is surprising, yet I’m not really as shocked as I should be.

Pasadena Now, a small weekly, fired its entire editorial staff and farmed out coverage to a staff of Indian writers recruited on Craigslist. Publisher James McPherson pays the virtual staff about $7.50 per 1,000 words, compared to the $30,000 to $40,000 he was paying each reporter annually. The Indian writers “report” via telephones, web harvesting and webcams, with support and guidance from McPherson and his wife.

$7.50 per $1,000 words.

Unfortunately, I have no words.

The original story on Glocal News is here at the New York Times.

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6 Comments

  1. leslie said January 3, 2009 | Permalink

    Almost sounds like a chapter from The World is Flat.

  2. Scotsman1228 said January 3, 2009 | Permalink

    Are we to congratulate a newspaper company that does this?

    What about the unemployed journalists?

    What about the local community and the money it is losing to India?

    What about training the local community to be journalists and graphic artists?

    What happens when everything is outsourced?

  3. newscoma said January 3, 2009 | Permalink

    As a journalist is a small market, believe me, I’m not applauding. But it’s good to know what’s going on around the world when it comes to news. It makes no sense to me how outsourcing journalism in Pasadena to India is going to be conducive in readers getting local news. The motto at the small bi-weekly I work at is “Local News Matters.”
    I’m with you, Scotsman1228.

  4. sadcox said January 3, 2009 | Permalink

    @Scotsman1228
    It’s funny to see this happening in journalism to me because I’ve seen cases of it working (and not working) in tech for a long time now. I’m not sure how local journalism could be done from the next sate, much less another country. It would seem to me that local journalism is the future of newspapers if done right.

    This doesn’t seem like the right way to do it.

  5. Dave J. (Scoop0901) said January 3, 2009 | Permalink

    @Sadcox:
    I can see how this kind of thing could be done from the next city or even the next state, as I used to do freelancing for a few papers from a few counties away. I had the minutes of various meetings faxed or mailed to me, then, after the meeting in question, I’d call for the final vote. There were times, such as during controversial issues, I’d make arrangements beforehand to call in live, listen to the meeting live. That helped make it always as good as being there, but I lacked the perspective of having been at the meeting, which eliminated the possibility of describing any behind-the-sceme action.

    Working a story — or beat — from India, though, seems doable if quality isn’t an issue. The issues we have in America — free enterprise, mils (valuation issues), and other such issues — aren’t topics they deal with in India. Too many cultural differences would inhibit quality reporting from India IMHO.

  6. lovable liberal said January 5, 2009 | Permalink

    Outsourcing MoDo to India might actually be pretty funny.

    The Pasadena Now outsourcing is about filling the hole between the ads with content that superficially resembles news.

    For summarizing long and boring meetings of local boards, they might be useful, since the board’s minutes are usually slow to come out (though what’s the hurry?). Problem is, as in this story, video watchers who have no stake are likely to miss the really interesting and newsworthy events.

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