The first I saw of this was at Topix: It’s official: Local reporting is doomed
Associated Press article:
Calif. Web Site Outsources Reporting By Justin Pritchard
Local blog posts:
Peoria Pundits: It’s official: Local reporting is doomed
Foothill Cities: PasadenaNow Outsources Local News Coverage (includes the text of the Bangalore Craigslist ad)
Editors’ Corner: Local coverage from afar
LA Observed: Pasadena News Site Outsources to India
When I first read this I felt almost breathless with shock. And it wasn’t necessarily a shock of delight. James Macpherson was at the bloggers’ picnic on Sunday. We were all locals being local together. We were building community. We were getting to know the people in our neighborhood. My initial split-second reaction to this news was fear. This seemed like the opposite of community building. What would it mean if people in India were reporting on our city news? What if it worked?!?
Now that I’m remembering that initial jolt, I’m trying to trace the lines of thought that the fear seemed to come from. Here’s what I think when I think fear:
- If it works, will our news sources feel even more monolithic and one-sided?
- Will local news become something that is dictated to us from halfway around the world by people who may not have enough information to decide what is important and relevant?
- Will local news become flatter, less meaningful and less human feeling?
- Will local reporters lose their jobs?
- Will it be even harder to write for a living here in Pasadena?
I didn’t feel that jolt of fear for long, though. A few seconds later, it was wonder that I was feeling. What an amazing idea! What if it works?!?
James Macpherson was not employing journalists at Pasadena Now previously from what I understand. It doesn’t sound like anyone is being laid off or replaced by journalists in India. These are new writers being hired. This is news coverage that adds to the coverage we have available now. If it works, it might make things harder for the Pasadena Weekly and the Pasadena Star News, but I’m okay with adding more news coverage and seeing what happens. It might make local journalism more competitive. It might be great. Wouldn’t it be neat to have more in depth coverage of Pasadena city council meetings? Outsider perspectives might shed new light. We might grow as a city.
I don’t think entirely replacing local reporters with people living halfway around the world is a good idea, but adding reporters living in another country to the mix (a mix that is predominantly local) might work very well.
I would love to learn more about these two new Pasadena Now writers. According to the AP article above, one of them studied at UC Berkeley. Neat. I want to know their names. I’d like to see their pictures. I’d like to interview them over the phone. I’d like to learn more about them as people. I’d like to know what they think about this idea! And I’d like to welcome them, person to person, to our online Pasadena community.
What if adding two Indian writers to our community could help our news sources could feel even more human, more warm, more thoughtful and more relevant? What if this adds depth and breadth to what is available now? I’m interested in seeing what happens.
What do you think?