Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Let's Not Outsource Writing

The Hartford Advocate tried an experiment. It outsourced some of its writing assignments to freelancers in India. Here is one of the news stories that was submitted:

Because of the Dog Bowl, the House Owner Faced a Damage of $215,000

The fire officers of Bellevue, Wash., state that on a bright sunny day, the dog's glass bowl and the sun ray combined and gave rise to blazing fire which burnt the back side of the house. Eric Keenan of Bellevue Fire Department Limited says that the investigators determined that dog's glass water bowl focused enough of sunlight
to work like the magnifying glass, because of which the fire began at the wooden deck of the house on Sunday. Investigators said that apart from this there was no other cause found which could give rise to the fire. During this incident, homeowners weren't at home and the neighbor noticed the fire and informed the fire department. The dog had been rescued and the damage is approximately $215,000.

Hmm. Seems to me that some things should not be outsourced. I am not against any freelance writer making a few dollars by writing news stories. But, I think you get what you pay for. And, well, the work speaks for itself.

Here is the explanation for the experiment directly from the paper:

It wasn’t our intention for our little outsourcing experiment to put us out of a job. But it’s clear that in an age when publications are aggressively cutting costs and reducing staffs, India’s millions of wired English speakers may present an irresistible resource. If so, our Indian colleagues will have earned the last laugh.

Call us old-school, but we think good, old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism is worth the price. Outsourcing could certainly fill pages, probably very cheaply, but what’s lost is the very essence of local newspapers: presence. At city hall, the local music club or out on the street talking up average folks, presence is what sets local newspapers (dinosaurs though they are sometimes) apart, and what outsourced news could never replace. But don’t take our word for it. Have a read and decide for yourself.

Here is the complete article. You can see other examples of the outsourced writing, too.

-- George Sheldon,


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think newspapers are having enough problems getting up with the growing trend of getting all our news online. Perhaps they hope to sell more papers for comic relief.

Cate Masters said...

Unfortunately, it's a sign of the times. Gannett Newspapers just announced today they're cutting 1400 jobs. Most newspapers never quite got up to speed with making money online, and journalists can't write for free any more than authors.

saicy said...

In spite of that, a lot of companies today are still outsourcing content writers, why? because it works yet. This just means that it is not about outsourcing itself, it might be about management. If you have a company and you need a lot of content for your site, make sure that you hire the good writers from a reputable outsourcing company. AMong the best ones that you can try is outsourcingtemps.