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 www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/opinion/30dowd.html.
Schedule and Location
Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 8:00 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm