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Welcome to Bangalo... Pasadena, sorry.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by slappy4428, May 10, 2007.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Saw this advisory on the AP budget, but haven't seen the story...

    PASADENA, Calif. _ The job posting was a head-scratcher: ``We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA.'' A Web site devoted to news about Pasadena is outsourcing its reporting to journalists in India. By Justin Pritchard.
  2. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    You gotta post this when it moves.

    Scary thing is, I know the Pasadena beat writer for the Pasadena Star News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Gene Maddaus. Great guy, really good at what he does. Covered cops for the old Times Community edition in the Inland Empire and did a great job.

    This should be interesting... Hopefully, it doesn't affect Gene at all. It shouldn't, but then again, the way this biz is eating its own...
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    By Justin Pritchard

    11:34 a.m. May 10, 2007

    PASADENA – The job posting was a head-scratcher: “We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA.”

    A reporter half a world away covering local street light contracts and sewer repairs? A reporter who's never gotten closer to Pasadena than the telecast of the Rose Bowl parade?

    Outsourcing first claimed manufacturing jobs, then hit services from airline reservations to tax preparation. Now comes the next frontier: A cost-saving gamble to separate work built on shaking hands, walking the streets and knowing local subtleties – on being there – from the place where it all happens.

    With video of weekly City Council meetings streaming online, why not, says the editor-publisher of the 2-year-old Web site pasadenanow.com.

    James Macpherson acknowledges the irony of covering this wealthy city just east of Los Angeles from India, but says it makes business sense.

    “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,” Macpherson said. “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.”

    The first articles, some of which will carry bylines, are slated to appear Friday.

    While Macpherson brims with breezy optimism, his plan has doubters.

    “Nobody in their right mind would trust the reporting of people who not only don't know the institutions but aren't even there to witness the events and nuances,” said Bryce Nelson, a University of Southern California journalism professor and Pasadena resident. “This is a truly sad picture of what American journalism could become.”

    It could be a shaky business proposition as well, said Uday Karmarkar, a UCLA professor of technology and strategy who himself sends copy editing and graphics work to Indian firms. If the goal is nuanced reporting, he said, Macpherson could spend more time editing than the labor discount is worth.

    Macpherson posted the help wanted ad Monday on the Indian edition of craigslist.com. Within days, he said, he'd hired two qualified Indian reporters, one a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley's journalism school.

    They'll broaden content from local news releases and event listings to analyses of local issues, perhaps eventually to investigative reports.

    Projected annual cost: $20,800 between the pair. Not bad wages for an Indian journalist and a bargain by U.S. salary standards, especially if each produces the expected 15 weekly articles.

    While remote-control reporting has plenty of skeptics, it doesn't seem to bother Pasadena officials.

    Context always matters, said city spokeswoman Ann Erdman, but coverage from afar shouldn't pose problems if articles are well edited.

    “Local government is certainly not in the practice of dictating to local business who they can hire and where those employees should live,” Erdman said.

    Macpherson, 51, is a Pasadena native and booster who promises that accuracy matters – after all, he's the one who gets the angry calls if something's wrong.

    His plan is to post “special reports” ahead of Monday night council meetings so readers can learn what's on tap. His reporters will work in the hours after meetings – after midnight here but afternoon in India – and file Tuesday stories explaining what happened. It's basic watchdog journalism, he said.

    In addition, Macpherson plans to e-mail digitally recorded interviews to low-cost transcribers in India. His reporters will mine the transcripts and feather quotes into their articles. They'll also get pictures and video.

    “I want to create as close to an in-person experience for the writer as I can,” Macpherson said.

    It's not the first time U.S. media jobs have been shipped to India. The Columbus Dispatch and Contra Costa Newspapers announced last year they'd send ad production jobs there. The British news agency Reuters runs an operation in the technology capital of Bangalore that churns out Wall Street earnings reports.

    Macpherson said his idea sprang from a prior career working with Asian clothing manufacturers.

    Macphersons said his Web site, which he runs out of his house, gets about 45,000 unique readers per month but is not yet profitable. Until now, his main help has consisted of his wife and an intern.

    Go-to local government coverage, he said, is one way to build a faithful readership and attract local advertisers. And India is the place to get that done.

    Associated Press Writer Matthew Rosenberg in New Delhi, India, contributed to this report.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Geez, Youngstown wouldn't have had to go to Ann Arbor to get their scabs. They could have gone to India
  6. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    Wasn't a Sac Bee reporter fired for covering baseball games this way?

    I hope circulation goes in the crapper.
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Plenty of American newspapers think they can proclaim the realities of Iraq or Afghanistan from their desks in Minneapolis, say, or New York City.

    So, no, this doesn't entirely surprise me.

    And it suggests a potential longer-term opportunity for reporters and such in this country. But that part I'll keep to myself for now.
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    It's for a website, spuds.. no circulation...
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Hey, if I move to India, think I can finally get a job with the Plain-Dealer?
  10. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    "Macphersons said his Web site, which he runs out of his house, gets about 45,000 unique readers per month but is not yet profitable."

    Here's hoping it stays that way.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I don't want to put myself on too slippery of a slope, but I'll just ask this.

    Newspapers are obviously cutting back all over the place.

    In a perfect world, we in the business wish they weren't cutting at all.

    But they are, and the days of big mega-staffs are ending/over.

    And one of the first places many papers cut, I'm reading, is in routine meeting coverage.

    So ...

    If this concept gives something readers want, and wouldn't be doing anyway based on staffing, and maybe it sells more papers or page views, could this possibly be a good thing for everybody in a very limited way?

    Before you kill me, yes, I know the problem: If they start with this, what's next?
  12. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    That and leprosy :D
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