Here in New Haven, Connecticut where nothing much happens except a visit now and then by famous Yale alumni [Hillary Clinton, Both Bush Presidents], there's been an amazing experiment. The May 28th - June 3, 2009 edition of the alternate weekly NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE has been primarily Made In India. And, it seems quite successfully.
The content pages which represent work done in India are stamped with a logo: Made In India. They include, believe it or not, these articles:
- "Skip the Appetizer" - The new mantra for recession-hit diners [in New Haven]
- "The Church and the Governor" - Dare to bring in a change to the death penalty? [in New Haven]
- "Boy Chases Snail Record" [and other tidbit news items from around New Haven]
- "Shad Mania" - A culinary tradition that connects Connecticut"
- "Licking It Clean" - review of musical events in Hartford, CT
How did this get done? Not easily, the editor [firstname.lastname@example.org] details. It started with one of those throw-outs from a Mickey Rooney - Judy Garland movie. A news web site in Pasadena, California made headlines, negative and positive, when it decided to outsource.
The first step was to decide to do it or at least try it. The powers-that-be put help-wanted on Craigslist for journalists based in India. The going rate was going to be about $7.50 for about a 1000 words. [Hey, that's better to some of the vendor-wanted ads on Elance.com. One enterprise wanted to reimburse writers about a buck an article and there were about 100 of them to crank out under a tight deadline.]
They received about 100 replies, some from well-credentialed communications pros such as Dev Das. Das happens to head up the Ogilvy & Mather branch in India. They were given the focus of the story and a list of contacts.
A number of those the newspaper tried to work with didn't pan out. But enough did to demonstrate that journalism is another task that has been globalized. In fact, thanks to webcam technology, any local meeting can be covered from anywhere.
The challenge seems to be able to do this in a more standardized manner. The introduction and logistics, contends the editor, were very time-consuming. Those of us who use contract help understand that. For that very reason, organizations still prefer to hire full-time workers who they can bank on will be there, have an investment in learning the ropes quickly, and are motivated to perform well on a sustained basis.
Of course, there remains the political heat of sending work out of the U.S. There are plenty of journalists unemployed or underemployed right here in New Haven.
The publicity pro in me advises the editor of the NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE to pitch this story in the form of a case study to top-tier media. The entrepreneur in me says to standardize this into a model and sell the package to other publications, print and digital.