Monday, 12 November 2007

Shome mistake, off-shorely

Ugly word, off-shoreing. But I like the sound of it.

In what the NUJ believes to be a first, News International is exporting much of the work done by 30 TV listings journalists to India.

It’s been happening to call-centre staff and others for some time; now it seems it is the turn of some sectors of journalism.

The work has been sub-contracted to PA, Press Gazette reports, which has two production centres in India, as well as one in the north of England.

Presumably this is not going to be an isolated event. Many more such moves are likely to follow. When I was at the Sunday Express, many subbing jobs were transferred to Preston, so it’s only one small step further to shift them abroad.

But here’s the question: Is this a threat, or an opportunity?

Obviously, if your job could be whisked from under you, it’s a threat. But that can’t happen with many journalistic jobs. The pool of those who can do high value reporting and editing, for an English-speaking audience, is severely limited.

Many currently UK-based journalists will fall into this highly-valued category. But while they need you – or someone of your calibre - to do your job, you often don’t need to do it in the UK.

So the smart move might be to off-shore yourself.

After all, for many journalists these days, where you are based is not important. Unless you have to regularly make face-to-face contact with the people you write about, or attend some form of proceedings routinely, you can work from pretty much anywhere, as along as there is broadband.

Last week I was in the south of France, training journalists for a company that decided, a few years ago, that it could base its web publications anywhere. So the founders decided where they’d like to live, and moved.

It certainly seemed a step up from cold grey November London as we sat outside a restaurant for lunch. At under 10 euros for two courses and a glass of wine, the meal was a damn sight better than what you’d get in your average office lunch spot in England.

Could all publishers up-sticks like this? Maybe not all – but plenty.

For many of us, the world really ought to be our lobster. There is really no reason why we can’t live and work somewhere warm, where the food is fantastic and the wine cheap, where it’s 10 minutes from the airport to the office, crime is low and property a fraction of UK prices.

Off-shoreing? Don’t mind if I do.

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