Friday, May 29, 2009

Connecticut news outsourced to Indian staff

Hartford Advocate: News - Outsource This!:
"We hired Indian freelance journalists to write the paper this week...
"Vanishing revenues have put the newspaper industry in a death spiral and many papers long ago outsourced other functions (like IT support centers and telemarketing) to India. We devised this issue as an experiment on what outsourced news might look like."
Back when I worked for The Hartford Courant, I remember delivering a bundle of copies of the first issue of The Hartford Advocate to the University of Connecticut for my next-door neighbor, one of the four people who started the paper.

As I recall, Ed, Linda and another couple launched the whole Advocate chain after Ed and the other guy got fed up with "part-time" copydesk jobs at the the now-fading but then-independent Hartford Courant... which eventually was gobbled up by a chain, which was gobbled up by another chain, which then bought the Advocate alt-weeklies.

So much for "alt." But it's good to see someone still has a sense of humor.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports on the same "outsourcing" stunt, but closes with a nice shout-out to former Advocate staffer Paul Bass's New Haven Independent, a Web-only newspaper that has concentrated on what you might call "in-sourcing" his city.

"Mr. Bass said he liked the outsourced issue, but it reminded him, alas, that so much of American journalism these days actually can be done from a desk in Mumbai, and that the threat facing most American newspapers isn’t necessarily outsourcing or even the new frontier of the Internet. It’s dull, stodgy products that have been downsized and bled dry by corporate owners. If what you do can be done, however imperfectly, from Mumbai, he said, then maybe you need to go back to Square One."

To see what I mean by "in-sourcing," which involves having your feet, head and heart in a local community, see this story and this story, including their background links. Nothing there looks "phoned in" -- not from Mumbai; not even from some office across town.

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