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Local journalism from an ocean away?!

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I tend to skew verbose rather than succint in my postings. However, when I read this article I had a one word, three letter response that very adequately sums up my disbelief. That word was, “wow.”

The job posting was a head-scratcher: “We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA.”

A reporter half a world away covering local street-light contracts and sewer repairs? A reporter who has never gotten closer to Pasadena than the telecast of the Rose Bowl parade?

Outsourcing first claimed manufacturing jobs, then hit services such as technical support, airline reservations and tax preparation. Now comes the next frontier: local journalism.

The reasoning, from the site’s creator?

“I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications,” said the 51-year-old Pasadena native. “Whether you’re at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you’re still just a phone call or e-mail away from the interview.”

I mean, wow. Does he miss the entire point or what? It is impossible to produce quality journalism if you never leave your office, and that is true even if your office is on the corner of Main Street.

How can you tell what stories are important to the average person if you never interact with them or share the same community with them? How do you gain someone’s trust when you can’t look them in the eye or shake their hand? How do you gain the trust of readers who know you haven’t driven down the street the city’s widening or walked the halls of the school the district’s closing? You can’t.

This is a very, very bad sign, and I hope a mere one-time accident.

2 Responses to “Local journalism from an ocean away?!”

  1. Brad Linder Says:

    Well, considering the website currently features nothing but news releases and event listings, this is probably a step up. At least a real person with critical thinking abilities will be monitoring Council meetings and conducting long distance interviews to get some actual news and information on the site.

    I’d hate to see a major news outlet decide to cut costs by firing local reporters and hiring distant ones. But as a baby step toward adding more news to a small website I’m not sure I’d dismiss this idea entirely.

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