The world may be flat, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written, but I always liked to think I was standing on a hill. Now comes the news that pasadenanow.com, a local news site, is recruiting reporters in
Excuse me, but isn’t this more or less what former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was fired for — pretending to report from sites around the country while he was actually holed up in his Brooklyn apartment? Or will pasadenanow.com be honest enough to give its new reporters datelines in
I should have seen it coming. In the eighties, US companies began outsourcing the manufacturing of everything from garments to steel, leaving whole cities to die. Education was the recommended solution for the unemployed, because in the globalized future, Americans would be world’s brains, while Mexicans and Malaysians would provide the hands. Let the low-end, repetitive jobs scatter to the ends of the earth, we were told — the intellectual and creative work would stay right here.
So no one really complained when the back office and call center jobs migrated to
But no one can pretend any longer that we have a global monopoly on intellect and innovation. Look at the “telemedicine” trend, which has radiologists in
Still, writing was believed to be safe — the last stronghold of Western creativity. Explaining the outsourcing of almost every newspaper function, including copy-editing, the billionaire CEO of a consortium of Irish newspapers wrote: ‘With the exception of the magic of writing and editing news … almost every other function, except printing, is location-indifferent.” But the magic has clearly been fading, starting two years ago when Reuters started outsourcing its Wall Street coverage to
No, I don’t resent the Indians for moving in on the kind of work I do. I just wish the next time some managers get the idea of cost-saving through outsourcing they’d go for the CEO’s job. That’s where the big bucks are, and there’s no reason to think a Chinese or Indian person couldn’t do a CEO’s work, whatever it may be, perfectly adequately, and at less than a tenth of the price. As for me, I’m retraining as a massage therapist, at least until they figure out how to do that from Mumbai.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of 13 books, most recently “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.”