RealClearPolitics Media Watch

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Outsourcing the News

The wheels continue to turn in the great makeover of newspapers. Outsourcing may be the newest fad.

Coming on the heels of content- and beat-sharing deals in Maryland and the Metroplex, the Tribune Co. is contemplating a proposal that would allow it to shut down expensive foreign bureaus. Already under bankruptcy protection, the Tribune Co. seeks to cut expenses by buying the Washington Post's international coverage so it wouldn't have to maintain its own overseas staffs for the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

But the New York Daily News has an even more revolutionary idea. The nation's fifth-largest daily paper has signed a deal with GlobalPost, a Boston-based start-up, for its international news content. This is essentially outsourcing - GlobalPost is a warehouse where it hires an army of stringers worldwide on a part-time basis. More syndication deals like this will be needed to ensure its survival.

Is this a good idea? A quick glance at some of the GlobalPost articles suggests that its reporting is adequate. For most newspapers that rely on wire services for its foreign news coverage, this would even be an upgrade. But I think it's doubtful that most papers would be willing to pay the very reasonable fee of $50,000 or less to pick up GlobalPost if it never had overseas correspondents to start with.

Newspapers, though, will continue to explore ways to save money out of necessity - and outsourcing is an option. Last June, the Orange County Register and Miami Herald began outsourcing some of its copy editing to MindWorks Global Media Services, an India-based company. Since MindWorks claims that it saves the newspapers 35% to 40%, there surely will be more outsourcing to come.

MindWorks plans to expand its staff from its current total of 100 to 1,500 by 2013. If you're fresh out of J-school, you might want to consider relocating to New Delhi or Bangalore.