Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Speaking of the decline of newspapers . . .

MediaNews Group (publisher of the Denver Post and many other papers) CEO Dean Singleton suggested to an industry group last week that copyediting and other newspaper editorial functions might be outsourced--even overseas--to save money:
[S]ingleton, who also serves as chairman of the board of The Associated Press, told the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association that his company was exploring outsourcing in nearly every aspect of their operations.

"In today's world, whether your desk is down the hall or around the world, from a computer standpoint, it doesn't matter," Singleton said after his speech. . . .

Singleton said sending copyediting and design jobs overseas may even be called for. . . .

"Fond memories of dead newspapers will do nothing for our communities," he said.

Naturally, a copyeditor group, the American Copy Editors Society (ACES--both dorkily self-congratulatory and a true acronym; how unexpected from the pissy little farts) is hurling its green eyeshades and waving its tiny ink-stained fists in fury: "Will this idea never die?"
Once again, a powerful name in journalism is floating the idea of consolidating and outsourcing copy editing. This time it's MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton, speaking at the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's annual convention. . . .

How often do we have to repeat this? Sending copy editing overseas is a sure way to kill a paper's credibility. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not in one dramatic gesture, but every time that desk 9,000 miles away overlooks some nuance that local readers will spot, the newspaper's credibility dies a little. Oak Lawn, Oak Cliff, Oak Park, Oak Hill? What's the diff?

A lot, if you live in one of them. And don't think for a minute that readers will fail to notice if you run a photo of Gerald Ford the ex-president instead of Gerald Ford the local businessman. Or if you say American Airlines' headquarters is in Dallas instead of Fort Worth.

Some things just can't be measured in terms of money. It's easy to say that you'll save thousands of dollars by hiring overseas workers to edit your copy. It's not so easy to say how much that loss of credibility is going to cost you when they miss errors a local person would have caught. But cost you it will.

According to the AP, "Singleton said Monday that local editors would always maintain final control and that no page would go to press without their approval."

But that little dose of final approval is a far cry from the collective wisdom of a locally based copy desk, with its inevitably diverse and quirky knowledge of the community. And let's not even start on the tragicomic workflow disaster an overseas desk would cause. Just think of the last time you had to deal with an overseas customer service call center.

Newspapers are still the place to go for the authoritative word on your community. If we lose that authoritative voice, we may as well outsource our readership as well, because local readers, not to mention advertisers, won't find any value in what our publications have to say.
ACES is totally wrong on this. The d-blog has outsourced his copyediting overseas for years, and it's been the greatest work- and money-saver ever, with absolutely no diminution in copy quality. Nun. Don't want to say exactly where I have it done, but its a contry that deeSires only piece in its' region, even while militarist lackeys of the capit8lists are turning rightly acrosss teh border, ready to attack with th3e angry bees of plutocratic subjugation! Running pug-dogs of the capitalists! You die now! Glory to our Dear Leader! Dear Leader will love forever! Hegemonist America! Don't go indiscriminately wild! Juche! Juche!

Update: In comments, noted hegemonist Gen. William T. Sherman reminds us: "Great Leader Kim Il Sung is Immortal." Thanks, General!

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