7: Offshoring your job

First it was call-centre jobs that were shipped overseas.
Then IT and tech support was outsourced to India and China.
Now, according to a July 18 Associated Press story, papers like the Fresno Bee are getting overseas companies to do the graphic design work on display ads.
It's just a matter of time before editing also gets outsourced, says Detroit Free Press editor Joe Grimm in a November 2006 Poynter article.
He says one company, Hi-Tech Exports offers 40 hours of proofreading for $295 US. At the current Pacific Press CEP rate, 40 hours would cost CanWest about $1,500 Canadian, not including benefits.
Hi-Tech Exports isn't shy about promoting its product.
"You have reached the perfect destination for all kinds of editing work under the sun! Our experienced editors can rewrite and reorganize your documents to give it clarity and a professional touch."
Although their mission statement may sound a little corny and contain a few minor grammatical errors, Grimm says most of their workers were educated in English-speaking schools, including ones in North America and Europe.
As part of a survey I did on Canada's English-language daily newspapers, editors were asked if they thought copy or layout editing would be ever be outsourced.
More than 80 per cent said no.
The Globe and Mail's Angus Frame echoed the consensus.
"Not in the near future."
However, 20 per cent said yes and Chatham, Ont., Daily News editor Bruce Corcoran noted his paper is laid out in Sarnia. The same happens to the Penticton Herald, which is entirely put together and printed at the Kelowna Courier.
Once the protocols are in place to work off-site, it's not a major leap to move that work off-continent.
New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman described the scenario in his book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. He says there is a difference between high-value custom work and plain vanilla exportable tasks. The vanilla—call centre work, advertising composition, etc.—gets outsourced first.
The secret to continued employment, explains The Free Press's Grimm, is to realize that it's just a matter of time before the vanilla part of newspaper work goes overseas.
In the editorial department, this includes the event calendar, designing and proofing pages and editing letters to the editor.
It could even be argued that a newspaper's world section could be assembled overseas. After all, who is better equipped to lay out a section on Southeast Asia, a Vancouverite or someone living in Southeast Asia?
To keep copy editing jobs in here, editors must focus on what can't be exported: local knowledge, expertise on complex local issues, experience with liable laws and political correctness, says Grimm.

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