Look around you.
If the Company got its way and could outsource any job, what could go?
Circulation calls. Classified ad sales. Page design. Editing. Advertising and editorial art. Payroll and accounting.
The oh-so-slow new computer system in editorial is based in Houston. Someone there, who has never been to Albany, could edit copy and lay it out on a page as easily (but not as accurately) as we do. E-mails to the calendar desk could be read there, the calendars compiled, edited and sent to a page designer and laid out without anyone in Albany ever looking at it. (Sure, there might be more mistakes, but there are already more getting in because fewer people are proofreading the paper under the new system.)
Sound impossible? It’s not. It’s already happening in our industry. One person even started a “news” Web site in Pasadena, California that hired “reporters” in India to watch the television feed of City Council meetings and write stories about them. (They missed it when a group of black lawmakers walked out in protest because it was off camera.)
It’s not hard to see what gets lost. Quality. Accuracy. (How do you ask how a speaker spells his or her name when you’re not even in the same part of the country or world?)
But many newspapers are going this route as if it’s their salvation. It’s not. It’s their doom. If the Times Union leadership thinks this is the path to follow, it will be the beginning of the end. Whatever you’ll call it in the future, it’s not journalism. It’s not customer service. It’s not news.
But look around you. The question is not what would go. It’s what would stay.