Monday, June 30, 2008

The Slow Decline Progresses

News from California has to come as a horrid shock to newspaper folks across the nation: The Orange County Register is outsourcing copy-editing to a firm in India.

Now, the Commercial Appeal here in Memphis has already announced that Scripps (their corporate owner) is outsourcing advertising layout and design to another Indian firm. This, however, is a whole new level. Copy-editing is reading the text for errors of spelling, punctuation and usage. It generally takes a person with good skills in English and a sharp eye for detail. The second can come anywhere, but the first? Have you talked with "Peggy" in an Indian support-line call center lately?

The cost of sending digital data across the world is trivial, but the people who manipulate that data in India will do it for much less than Americans will. They have a lower relative cost of living. Plus they don't have pesky OSHA and other workplace laws, nor do they have unions. It saves money.

Will the editors of the papers that benefit from this kind of outsourcing print editorials against it, as they do against other industries doing the same thing for the same reason? Will they swear that the product won't suffer by this change?

Will it? Will the community that supports this paper, and the people who won't work there any more, put up with it if they ever find out? Who will tell them?

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