Saturday, February 14, 2009

Outsourced news?

When I was working on my Bob Marley story, I referenced a news article at the Reuters website. The article had an interesting byline at the bottom:

(Reporting by Emily Chasan in New York and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

At first I thought that an Indian company might have been involved in the Marley licensing deal, which accounting for Kamalakaran's presence in the byline. But then I realized that something different was going on, and an old BBC article confirmed it:

In an office in central Bangalore, dozens of employees are arriving to work on the night shift.

They are journalists employed by the world's biggest news agency, Reuters.

Their job is to cover US financial news.

And they are working overnight so that they can report company news live as it happens on the New York Stock Exchange - from India.

But if I really want to understand how news is being outsourced to India, I can look closer to home. Well, sort of, since the reporting is still in India.

Before the Foothill Cities Blog had a major hiccup, it was devoting a lot of attention to Pasadena Now's India-based coverage of the city of Pasadena. While I can't find the older articles, there is a December 2008 post that talks about the main issues. There's also a 2007 Eye Level Pasadena post that links to a lot of other items (although, unfortunately, the Foothill Cities Blog posts are no longer available).

Although I live for opoprtunities to slam Maureen Dowd, I'm forced to admit that she did uncover some issues with the accuracy of the Pasadena Now coverage:

I checked in with one of [James Macpherson's] workers in Mysore City in southern India, 40-year-old G. Sreejayanthi, who puts together Pasadena events listings. She said she had a full-time job in India and didn’t think of herself as a journalist. “I try to do my best, which need not necessarily be correct always,” she wrote back. “Regarding Rose Bowl, my first thought was it was related to some food event but then found that is related to Sports field.”

However, Dowd was apparently late to the party, since the Claremont Insider parodied Pasadena Now's accuracy in 2007. Excerpt:

The Claremont Resort and Spa has initiated special summer Rate Plans. The Resort and Spa has a distinguished history going back to the 19th Century a.d. and has hosted the Saudi Royal Family in connexion with the Founding of the United Nations in 1945. Excellent views of the Bay Area are to be had.

Well, it's funny to the locals.

But is Pasadena Now's local coverage the worse for the wear today? Judge for yourself:

City Council Rejects Convention Center Artwork
After a public debate it was decided that alternative artwork be for the Convention Center be solicited.

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | 2:04 PM

In a public debate Monday, the City Council voted to reject the recommendation of the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission to install works it had solicited and approved by internationally-known sculptors Hans Peter Kuhn and Dennis Oppenheim at the new Pasadena Center plaza. They will instead, accept a recommendation by City Manager Michael Beck to seek alternatives.

Continued here.
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