Outsourcing American Journalism? Meet the Bangalore Bureau

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Well, I guess this really shouldn’t shock me, but the International Herald Tribune reports that, as if the wave of pink slips hitting America’s daily papers and wire services weren’t bad enough, there’s a new trend that goes hand in hand: outsourcing (or offshoring, if you prefer) journalism jobs to India and elsewhere:

The rush of job recruiting ads on MonsterIndia.com tells the story of the latest class of workers to watch their trade start migrating to another continent. “Urgent requirement for business writers,” reads one ad looking for journalists to locate in Mumbai. “Should be willing to work in night shifts (UK shift).” Another casts for English-speaking journalists in Bangalore with “experience in editing and writing for US/International Media.”

Remote-control journalism is the scornful term that unions use for the shift of newspaper jobs to low-cost countries like India or Singapore with fiber-optic connections transmitting information all around the world. But the momentum for “offshoring” to other countries or outsourcing locally is accelerating as newspapers small and large seek ways to reduce costs in the face of severe stresses, from sagging circulation and advertising revenue to shareholder pressure. “Outsourcing plays a major part in the newspaper industry of today,” the World Association of Newspapers concluded in a study released in July.

This trend has been around for a while:

More than two years ago, Reuters, the financial news service, opened a new center in Bangalore. The 340 employees, including an editorial team of 13 local journalists, was deployed to write about corporate earnings and broker research on U.S. companies. Since then, the Reuters staff at the Bangalore center has grown to about 1,600, with 100 journalists working on U.S. stories.

But not to worry:

The World Association of Newspapers, a Paris-based organization representing 72 national newspaper associations, conducted a global survey of about 350 newspapers in Europe, Asia and the United States, and company executives reported that they expected the outsourcing to increase, although few were willing to farm out all of their editorial functions.

Yeah, I’m sure those corporate VPs at WAN’s member papers are safe.

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