Reporters cover Pasadena...from India

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

The practice of outsourcing jobs from North America to lower-wage countries has already had an impact on the manufacturing, customer service and technical support industries. Next up ... local journalism?

An editor of a California news site has hired reporters based in India to cover local news, arguing he can hire two good reporters for an annual cost of just $20,800 US.

James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the two-year-old Web site pasadenanow.com, said the reporters can cover the news just as easily from afar because Pasadena City Council meetings are posted on the internet.

As he told the Associated Press:

"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. 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."

It's not the first time journalism has been outsourced: Reuters set up an operation in Bangalore in 2004 where Indian journalists rewrite press releases from Wall Street.

According to a recent BBC story, the problem facing the Reuters bureau isn't accuracy or a decrease in quality - it's staff turnover.

"I am a Reuters lifer," explains Bangalore bureau chief Abi Sekimitsu to the BBC. "When I joined Reuters in Hong Kong, I planned to make my career in the firm. But some of the young journalists I am employing seem to think that a year is a long time to work for one company."

Perhaps it's the 20 news briefs staffers are expected to churn out a day. Technically it is journalism, but it sure sounds a lot like making widgets. No, not those widgets.