I’m not the only one looking to hire from India

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post.

The AP ran this story yesterday — Calif. Web site outsources reporting — about a California online newspaper hiring reporters in India to cover local news in Pasadena.

Here’s a writeup of the story from Journalism.co.uk: Local news reporting outsourced to India.

Blogger Billy Dennis at Peoria Pundits says this is a “sign of the apocalypse.”

As usual, I’m divided on the issue. On the one hand, as an American journalist, I know that the employment situation in the US is already bad enough for reporters. This isn’t going to make things any better.

But, on the other hand, too much reporting in the US is already done by telephone and email, by new kids fresh out of college who don’t know much about the communities they cover.

So why not give the jobs to kids in India? They’ll work harder, for less money, appreciate the jobs more, and stay longer — maybe even long enough to get to know the community (at least, in a remote and virtual way). They probably need the jobs more than we do, too, supporting a large extended family, often sending money to rural areas where people still live a subsistence life and those meager dollars can lift a family out of poverty, send young siblings to college, keep an elderly parent healthy and fed.

(I just returned from a trip to India, where I visited one of these villages after touring a bunch of tech outsourcing companies.Whoa.)

And it’s not that we don’t have jobs in the US. We have plenty of jobs — just not the jobs that we journalists may want. Despite all the outsourcing, the employment rate in the US stays low. Our economy is chugging along. (And, I expect, will for a long time.)

But I’m an optimist. And, also, I’m an immigrant. I don’t see any moral superiority in keeping jobs in the US.

For those who do, I say: get out of the office. Meet your readers and your sources in person. Turn your job into one that can’t be outsourced to someone on the other side of the planet.

Signing off in Shanghai,