Schedule and Location

Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. We meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Nokomis Fire Station. Coming from Sarasota or North, proceed a few blocks south of Albee Road on US 41 (past Matthews-Currie Ford) to Pavonia Road. Turn right (West, toward the bay) at the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are 2 blocks north of Dona Bay. Turn left onto Pavonia Road at the flashing yellow caution light. At the Fire Station, drive to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room at the far end of the complex. We Gather for a meet and greet at 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten-minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Adjourned: 9:00 pm

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Changes in the Big Apple

For those who are not on the mailing list, Dan Poynter's latest Newsletter had a couple of very disturbing articles and links about some of the firings, transfers, downsizings, consolidatings, and goings out of business that are rocking the Big Name Publishers in NYC. Publishers like Random House, Doubleday, et. al. Like nearly every other industry, publishing has been taking some pretty brutal shocks lately. And the upshot of it all spells more trouble for writers. If you want the honest and gloomy truth about the effects of our recession on the publishing industry, check out Poynter's website: and find the "newsletter" tab. Item #4 of the current issue is where all the bad news starts. And if you don't get Poynter's newsletter, think about signing up. It really does contain a lot of worthwhile info. And better yet, IT'S FREE!

Russ Heitz

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Outsourcing Everthing

For those who may have missed it, a Maureen Dowd column in the New York Times illustrated once again the inevitable encroachment of globalization. This time it is local newspapers that are taking the plunge.

James Macpherson, publisher of a local California newspaper called PASADENA NOW, recently fired seven members of his Pasadena staff, which included five reporters, and replaced them with a handful of non-journalists who live in India. The reason? The reporters were being paid $600 to $800 a week. The non-journalists in India will do the same work for less ... for a whole LOT less.

There's no need for overhead expenses either, like health benefits, merit raises, workshop training, computer breakdowns, etc. Macpherson simply buys his articles one at a time.

"I pay per piece, just the way it was in the garment business," he says. "A thousand words pays $7.50." For those who don't have a calculator nearby, that comes out to .0075 cents a word. As a comparison, that is considerably less than science fiction magazines 50 years ago were paying for novellas about interplanetary space travel, green-skinned aliens, and a cock-eyed concept called Global Warming.

How do non-journalists in India report on local events going on in Pasadena, California? By using today's electronic gadgetry: email, cell phones, web surfing, and internet videos of local town hall meetings. Macpherson admits, however, that sometimes something is lost in multi-continent translations. One of his Indian non-journalists, for example, thought the Rose Bowl was some kind of gastronomic delight, rather than a football game. But hey, who cares about trivia, right?

It would be nice to think Macpherson's idea is just some nutty experiment by one small-time publisher. Unfortunately, it's more like a warning about the future of newpapers. A guy named Dean Singleton, who just happens to be the head of a newspaper conglomerate that includes 54 daily newspapers such as The Denver Post, The Detroit News, and The Pasadena Star-News, is also looking into the possibility of outsourcing every aspect of publishing, including possibly having one news desk for ALL of his papers, and having that desk "maybe even offshore," he says.

Shocking? Sure, but not surprising. Everything else is being globalized, why not local newspapers.

If you want to read Maureen Dowd's entire column go to

Russ Heitz