By Martin Bosworth
“A lot of the routine stuff we do can be done by really talented people in another time zone at much lower wages,” said Macpherson, 51, who used to run a clothing business with manufacturing help from Vietnam and India.
I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, what is MacPherson doing that’s different from any independent news magazine, Web site, or blog community? He’s providing a useful service for his community and keeping that most vital of resources–local news–alive and well.
It’s also feasible to think that the news can be constructed without people being there. Many an article I’ve written has been cobbled together from statements, press releases, and cobbled quotes–I try to get the source whenever possible, but sometimes you just go with what you have.
But on the other hand, I can’t believe that MacPherson is so hard up for money that he can’t contract out to a few freelancers to cover city council meetings part-time. I have no trouble thinking of a few struggling journalism students or copy slaves that wouldn’t mind the extra scratch.
And the idea of using Webcasts of the hearings to build articles from is also entirely feasible–I’ve done it myself–but then again, I am not from Bangalore, India. What kind of nuances or important details will be lost because of the cultural, technological, and physical gaps between the reporter and their subject?
I hate myself for thinking this idea has merit, but being an employee and consultant for several small businesses, I see the outsourcing of practically any and every function as a reality every day. I just can’t shake the idea that MacPherson–who says openly that he wants to serve his community–is doing his community a disservice by not working harder to recruit fresh talent closer to home.
What do you guys think?