Outsourcing journalism: From eye witness to i-witness?

Outsourcing has arrived…in broadcast journalism.

Good reporting, we thought, has everything to do with being there, observing and then sharing the information, impressions and opinions. But some editors and publishers disagree.

Just caught this news in the Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2007:

Local news reporting outsourced to India
A news site hires two to cover Pasadena from afar. That helps a shoestring budget go further.

By Alex Pham, Times Staff Writer
May 11, 2007

When is local journalism not really local? When it’s about Pasadena and written by someone in India.

James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the Pasadena Now website, hired two reporters last weekend to cover the Pasadena City Council. One lives in Mumbai and will be paid $12,000 a year. The other will work in Bangalore for $7,200.

The council broadcasts its meetings on the Web. From nearly 9,000 miles away, the outsourced journalists plan to watch, then write their stories while their boss sleeps — India is 12.5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

“A lot of the routine stuff we do can be done by really talented people in another time zone at much lower wages,” said Macpherson, 51, who used to run a clothing business with manufacturing help from Vietnam and India.

Read the full story

Wait till other media managers get to hear this.

And I can already imagine how our media intellectuals in South Asia will tear this apart.

Read Rediff India coverage of this story