Monday, December 01, 2008

Outsourcing Writing Local News -- Incredible!

Incredibly, local Internet news writing has been outsourced in one Southern California city. I urge you to read Maureen Dowd's "A Penny For My Thoughts" in her New York Times Opinion piece November 30, 2008. She has written some interesting new facts and observations since I first reported her interest in this approach to news reporting. She provides her special unique humorous perspective on the topic as can be expected.

I wrote here earlier about attending Ms Dowd's recent local speaking engagement. (See "An Evening with Maureen Dowd" consecutive posts November 21 & 24, 2008 in Archives.)

I noted that she mentioned as a sidelight that:
"...while here in So. Cal. she met with James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the Pasadena Now website. He has outsourced coverage of the Pasadena City Council to two reporters in India."

Ms Dowd's account of that meeting and related information gathered raises concerns in my mind. Her speculation about the prospect of local city, state and national news being outsourced to inexperienced writers of another country reads like some sort of weird science fiction story. There's only one problem with dismissing this scenario as a bizarre humorous joke -- it's actually happening in Pasadena and has been for a while. I do wonder if the practice could spread?

Just what our country needs in an already shaky U. S. economy is creating even more job losses by outsourcing writing. The information Ms Dowd gathered leads me to think there is also that pesky little problem of outsourced writers having a realistic perspective for credible news interpretation. I realize that can be a problem with our own home grown news people, but somehow I'm not convinced outsourcing lends itself well to being an improvement.

I have to ask again, just how capable of effectively understanding and writing about the intricacies of our city issues are individuals on another continent? They likely have little knowledge of local particulars with no vested interest in the city, our state and country? When you read Ms Dowd's article you'll likely have a few doubts and thoughts of your own.

I wish I could just dismiss the possibility of this latest outsourcing as being limited to Pasadena, but that's one too many instances from my point of view. I hope this isn't the future of Internet news.


  1. All I can say is that this is crazy as hell! I am, however, not surprised. The efforts to turn us into a third world country are unceasing.

  2. Our newspaper is owned by the Las Vegas based Stevens Media. We had a blogger who covered local issues, but he has been hired by the newly elected mayor and has ceased to blog.
    This is a small place, (Hilo, Hawaii); I know most of the elected officials, and the major issues are pretty clear. Not that we concerned citizens can do much, in some cases. We have had some small triumphs, that's all.
    But a complex place like Pasadena would need oversight. No wonder it's in such a mess,as is California in general.
    (While fact-checking the owner of our paper, I read online that a man died in police custody here. Awful. If that had happened in Pasadena, I suppose no one would even notice or care.)