Hello Bolly


She’s the little old lady from Utta Pradesh now…

James MacPherson is the publisher of an online website called Pasadena Now.

Pasadenanow.com is causing a lot of buzz in the journalism community. Not because it’s hyperlocal news. that’s old stuff.  But because MacPherson has announced he is going to outsource the reporting jobs to India.


MacPherson believes that since City Council meetings are streamed on the web already, there is no need for a reporter’s physical presence in the room, and the goings on can be covered just as easily from Bangalore.

Well, maybe

His move has caused such as stir that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has already picked up on the story.

MacPherson’s idea may or may not work, but it gave me a moment to think about the whole notion of outsourcing video production in general.

I am on the board of a wonderful organization called Video Volunteers.

It was founded a few years ago by a graduate of one of my seminars, Jessica Mayberry, and today it is a world leader in empowering people in India with video cameras, laptop edits and the skill sets to tell their own stories in video.

Some of our trainees have now been making video for several years, and are quite good at it. So good, in fact that I think perhaps it is time for them to break out onto the world stage.

It is fine to give out video cameras and teach people to ‘tell their own stories’, but after a while, perhaps it is time for them to start and tell other people’s stories as well. After all, that’s what happens when a crew from Atlanta or New York flies half way around the world to shoot stories in Thailand or Rwanda for ITN or CBS or the BBC.

Well, maybe it is time for our Indian camera crews to get into that business as well.

Of course, in India the median income is an astonishing $115 a month.  That’s one hundred fifteen dollars a month (just in case you thought that was a typo).  So my guess is that our Indian camera crews will be pretty competitive… and quite happy to work long and hard hours and produce a superior product.

At those rates it might just be worth it to fly the crews into the US for work here, in fact.

Bollywood indeed.

6 responses to “Hello Bolly

  1. Sure!

    Lot’s of fun seeing them try and cover news from there here!

    I here they even have a four day VJ school of their own!

    No need to fly in someone charging thousands for a four day class when they can teach the very same thing cheaper themselves!

    Of course they need to physically be here to shoot the various news events and get people to interview them on the scene.

    How will they know who is who and who was really there?



    There are some things that still require a physical presence to accomplish.

    So if you factor in their air fare on top of that pennies a month salary you claim they make, the costs don’t seem to live up to your hopes.


  2. Dear $
    Well, perhaps flying them to the US does not work, but surely flying them to say, Bangkok or Pakistan makes more sense than flying in a US or UK crew. And as for local knowledge, well my guess is that they are head and shoulders above the US crews when it comes to knowing who the players are, don’t you think.

  3. I have to agree with Stephen on this one Michael – Outsourcing is one of the primary reasons for loss of jobs in this country. IMO – it’s a cop out to save a quick buck at best.

    I believe it sets a bad precedent to think outsourcing creative skills overseas is a cure all for reducing costs on something tangible as video production – in fact I had a knee jerk reaction to your notion of it being viable for news coverage remotely. It’s one thing to have a foreign correspondent shooting something in their neck of the woods – that makes economic sense – it’s another to hire a worker and believe they can do as good of a job when they know nothing of the topic they are covering – like U.S. politics – even at the local level with no understanding of how it works.

    Sorry – but all I see is this diminishing the quality to the point of why even bother. It’s already apparent that in still work, there are very few in the top 1% while the scavengers who are quite good fight to get at the other 99% of work – and are being paid crap wages for their skills.

    Ever dealt with a tech support person from Dell? They’re not American, and they aren’t very good at it either (they basically read a script which I know for a fact since I did tech support for Symantec before they too outsourced tech support) – and trying to understand them is frustrating at best. I have actually boycotted companies who outsource American jobs overseas for this very reason – American companies should be hiring American workers.

    Web hosting is another example: GoDaddy is an American company based in Phoenix, AZ and has their tech support and sales people based – in Phoenix. They offer competitive prices and have outstanding tech support. They have my business for all my web design clients for that very reason – and their support is above other companies outsourcing their tech support to India or wherever else.

    I’m all for competing in the market and I’ve been a proponent for much of what you’ve espoused here on your blog – but outsourcing VJ work (or any jobs for that matter) to foreign workers for poverty wages when there are those who are capable in this country is, IMO, unpatriotic.

  4. News from their part of the world, of real long term interest to a US audience, is sporadic.

    Pasadina is something else.

    Let them cover the crazies in their part of the world for during those few times anything worthwhile is happening.

    You won’t see them in Pasadena!

    That’s why this internet goof’s idea won’t fly.

    He’s just like you.

    Short on real world experience with no financial success to point to.

  5. Sweet! I got to figure out how to get 14-25 minutes of raw footage to India, have them edit it down to a 60 second spot and send the finished product back to me in a turnaround of less than 4 days.

    I could triple, maybe quadruple my income; if that aint the American way then what is?

    Exploitation at its finest.

  6. hey, ‘they’ laughed at the folks @ The Weather Channel when it first launched.

    “how you gonna do ‘local’ weather from a remote location? it’ll never work!!!”

    and that was pretty much before the internet made EVERYTHING only a fraction of a second away.

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