Would a newspaper copy desk in India know that it's Xcel Energy Center, not Excel? Or would they notice that Michele Bachmann's first name has one L? We doubt it.
But the company that owns the Pioneer Press, MediaNews, is thinking it could outsource copy desks to save money. This has to be some kind of joke, right?
According to the Associated Press:
MediaNews Group Inc. CEO Dean Singleton, who also serves as chairman of the board of The Associated Press, told the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association that his company was exploring outsourcing in nearly every aspect of their operations.
"In today's world, whether your desk is down the hall or around the world, from a computer standpoint, it doesn't matter," Singleton said after his speech.
MediaNews publishes The Denver Post, The Detroit News and 52 other daily newspapers and is well known for cost-cutting efforts, including combining many operations of its papers near San Francisco.
Singleton said sending copyediting and design jobs overseas may even be called for.
"One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews ... maybe even offshore," he said during the speech.
Few have sent newsroom functions overseas, limiting off-shoring mostly to ad production and other non-editorial functions, said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc.
The American Copy Editors Society is fuming:
Sending copy editing overseas is a sure way to kill a paper's credibility. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not in one dramatic gesture, but every time that desk 9,000 miles away overlooks some nuance that local readers will spot, the newspaper's credibility dies a little. Oak Lawn, Oak Cliff, Oak Park, Oak Hill? What's the diff?
A lot, if you live in one of them. And don't think for a minute that readers will fail to notice if you run a photo of Gerald Ford the ex-president instead of Gerald Ford the local businessman. Or if you say American Airlines' headquarters is in Dallas instead of Fort Worth.
Some things just can't be measured in terms of money. It's easy to say that you'll save thousands of dollars by hiring overseas workers to edit your copy. It's not so easy to say how much that loss of credibility is going to cost you when they miss errors a local person would have caught. But cost you it will.
Toss that idea out as a ridiculous brainstorm of the day.