US: Reuters Outsourcing Journalists

Publisher Name: 
New York Times

Outsourcing has become all the rage in recent years, and
India has become a favorite destination for Western
companies that want to send jobs to cheaper markets.
Companies as different as Delta Air Lines and Dell Computer
have hired workers or subcontractors to perform customer
service, data entry or other computer-related jobs once
done in the United States.

Now, Reuters is going a step further. It told its editorial
employees in an electronic posting late last week that it
planned to hire six journalists in Bangalore, India, to do
basic financial reporting on 3,000 small to medium-size
American companies.

"It's a place where you can get people who understand
English, understand financial statements, understand
journalism and who are educated to a very high standard and
eager to do this kind of work,'' David Schlesinger, global
managing editor of Reuters, said in a telephone interview.
They are also relatively inexpensive, he added.

Though Reuters, which has its headquarters in London, is
perhaps best known as an international news agency, it
draws most of its revenue from the more than 400,000 people
on Wall Street and in other financial centers who use its
financial services products.

The reporters in Bangalore will mostly be responsible for
extracting basic financial information from company news
releases and quarterly earnings reports. Tasks like
interviewing a company president, talking to analysts and
covering breaking news, will continue to be done by more
experienced journalists working in the countries where
those companies operate, Mr. Schlesinger said.

While the pilot project is intentionally modest, it is
related to a much larger effort, announced by Reuters late
last year, that will send about 200 of its data-entry jobs
to Bangalore from England and the United States.

The Economic Times, an Indian publication, reported last
week that other media companies, including Time Warner,
Disney and Bertelsmann, were considering outsourcing parts
of their information technology and back-office operations
to India.

In the message to employees about the journalism project,
which will deal with companies Reuters does not cover
regularly now, Mr. Schlesinger did not rule out expanding
the project.

"I'll keep you informed as how this develops,'' he wrote.
"This could be a very exciting way to get more news on our
wires in a more efficient way.''

AMP Section Name:Media & Entertainment