Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Register Drops Another Shoe

The media, print and visual, is all over a story from the Associated Press published in the last 24 hours, which c
an be viewed HERE on the Sacramento Bee online site, that chronicles the plan for the Orange County Register to begin outsourcing the copy editing and page layout for one of their community newspapers to a company in India. This purported one-month trial isn't the end of the world, but is very likely an omen of things to come.

The Register has been under the gun, as have all print media outlets, to adapt or die in the current environment. Every local outlet has experienced layoffs and the situation is exacerbated in the case of the Los Angeles Times family of newspapers by the acquisition of The Tribune Companies - the Times parent - by Sam Zell
not too many months ago. Zell is busily squeezing that organization like a handful of Nutty Putty and will soon be selling off the pieces to pay down more than $13 billion in debt.

The Register's move - portrayed as a trial move to see how it works - makes me very nervous. It's yet another example of farming out important functions to vendors on the other side of the world. This has happened in our manufacturing businesses and service organizations, too. Today, instead of talking to a service representative in Sacramento or Harrisburg, PA when I have a problem with my internet service provider, Earthlink, I now speak first with someone in The Philippines and, if the problem doesn't fit their template, am referred on to someone in India to fix it. Seldom do the problems get resolved the first time aroun
d any more. It's very frustrating.


The pressure being brought on the "old" media by the "new" media - the electronic form of which this blog is a part - is tremendous. Mountains of resources are being spent to create and maintain an online presence to remain competitive. It won't be long, I'm afraid, until we see print media outlets drop like flies because their management have been unable to shake the old ways. This is not good news, in my opinion.

Such a catastrophe will leave those of us interested in current events at the mercy of bloggers. I mean, can you imagine having such biased publications as this one and the CM Press, for example, as your primary sources of "news"? Gad!

Quite honestly, I hope this little experiment of the Register's fails. I don't like the idea of farming out control of how the content is presented and edited to some guy in New Delhi. What makes our local newspapers so valuable to me is the local influence over the way they present the news. I fear that, if the Register's experiment is successful from a financial standpoint, this concept will spread throughout the industry and we will begin to lose control of our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press.

Time will tell....

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