Tendo Dev Blog

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Outsourcing to the outer limits?

Two people sent me the same article this morning about outsourcing. Seems that a website in Pasadena, California, is outsourcing its coverage of Pasadena politics to two journalists living in—are you sitting down?—India.

In this case, the decision to outsource seems to be based solely on money. The editor and publisher, James Macpherson, estimates that he’ll pay $20,800 in salary for the two writers, who will write about 15 stories per week per person. Cheap deal. The article quotes professors at USC and UCLA bemoaning the state of American journalism, and I have to agree. In his defense, Macpherson says that Pasadena city council meetings are available on the Internet, but puhleeze. If you’re covering a city’s political scene by watching Internet video, you shouldn’t call yourself a journalist. Where’s the local color and nuance? The “man on the street” reactions? Where’s the real reporting?

That said, sometimes outsourcing makes perfect sense. Plus it isn’t always about lowering costs or about hiring someone on the other side of the globe. I “outsource” plenty of tasks in my personal life, usually because I don’t have the time (cooking), the inclination (housekeeping), or the skills (anything that requires a tool box) to achieve the results I want. I’d save some money if I kept these tasks “in-house,” but to me, the benefits outweigh the costs.

At Tendo, our clients hire us for some of the same reasons. They might be terrific at building cars or developing great technologies, but they don’t specialize in creating customer communication programs, nor do they have the manpower to take on the associated challenges. And they don’t need to: They hire us for our expertise and our outside perspective while they focus on their core business.

Tendo, in turn, sometimes outsources, too. We have a stable of freelance writers, for example, that we use when we need specific expertise in a certain subject area. You can’t always have the resident expert on high-energy nuclear physics on staff.

Outsourcing has its limitations—I don’t want writers in Seoul giving me the scoop about Gavin Newsom’s latest scandal—but it can be an efficient and logical solution to a business challenge. —Julie Jares, managing editor

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May 11, 2007 - Posted by | Custom Content, In the News, Julie Jares

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