Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Russia calling

If you curse every time a Bell technical assistance voice comes in loud and clear from India, you are not alone.

Aggravating as it is, it appears Sun Media has been taking notes on outsourcing.

A TSF reader who writes:

"FYI: Just the other day we had some technical issues (and still have) with our digital edition. Ghost email addresses and telephone numbers appearing on some pages.

"After some queries, we received an email from (no kidding) ND XML Moscow Quality Control. A representative from Newspaperdirect named Galya said that they are looking into the problem.

"So, we are getting close to India."

How do you spell Englinton in Russian?

To our right on the office wall is a black and white photo of the Globe and Mail rim circa 1962 , snapped by Bob Chow. The self-sufficient hub of a major daily newspaper with a sole focus - gathering, editing and packaging the news.

Sun Media, with drastic newsroom layoffs, outsourcing, the rush to the Internet and cookie cutter centralization, has shifted all things that make a newspaper a newspaper 90 degrees. The focus today is on profits, not journalism or the finished product.

As Steve Anderson over at the Campaign for Democratic Media blog writes:

"Quebecor, one of the country's largest media conglomerates, recently locked out workers of its most profitable newspaper, the Journal de Montréal. The Journal's union estimates Quebecor drew in $50 million in profits from the Journal de Montréal in 2008.

"Why, we might ask, lock out workers in a profitable business? While Quebecor may be profitable, in Canada's uncompetitive traditional media market, it can be MORE profitable if it breaks, or at least weakens, worker compensation and benefits.

"When a media company is focused on achieving utmost profitability, it may be inclined to continually push for more and more output by fewer and fewer journalists, thereby creating a downward spiral for journalism.

"The problem with journalism in Canada isn't so much the economic slow down or new media, these just exacerbate a trend that was already underway. The real culprit is the propensity of big media to treat news operations as just another business."

The newsroom in the Globe and Mail photo on the wall says it all about focus.

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