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  • I'm a writer, journalist, and the editor of The Gambit, the alt-weekly newspaper in New Orleans.

    Journalism: My work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Globe & Mail (Canada), The Times- Picayune (New Orleans), The Oregonian, and Willamette Week, as well as in magazines including Details, Vogue, Publishers Weekly, and Portland Monthly.

    Publishing: Tight Shot, my first novel, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Its sequel, Hot Shot, was roundly ignored by everyone, but was a far better book. I'm also a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

    Stage: I was a member of the Groundlings and Circle Repertory West in Los Angeles, and am a playwright (see "Stage" in the right-hand rail).

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June 23, 2008

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Jil

One I can see. Three in the same story? You're right -- it sounds like someone overseas is putting together the stories.

Kevin

I hope it is outsourcing; I'd hate to think it was staffers. This isn't the Community Shopping Pennysaver News, it's a metro paper in a mid-sized city that's proud of its literacy rate.

The lack of byline made me suspect that the paper might be experimenting with outsourcing PR-rewrite stories. This piece could've been cobbled together by anyone with access to the police report.

Shannon

It might be staffers - like a web person they hired to put stories online who isn't much of a writer. News organizations have a habit of hiring 'computer geeks' instead of actual writers for their web content. They just don't get it.

metroknow

At the risk of offense - and I am obviously biased here, due to it impacting me personally - I blame (gasp! One does not "blame" these days! For shame!) this on the ease with which one can get an MBA, a job based on that marker, and the subsequent MBAs who make really awful business decisions like this.

I work for a very large software company who's business majors saw fit earlier this year to lay off all of the U.S. writing, editing, and publishing staff for their cash cow product (that is probably running on your computer right now) in favor of outsourcing all of the writing of manuals and online help to India. India, in turn, outsources to the Philippines, who in turn outsources to China. As if technical writing weren't already bad enough.

This, all to save a few pennies on cost, thanks IMHO to the "you can get your MBA in 30 days or less" crowd steering the boat through the financial ice field. Brilliant.

I guess the question that I have for newspaper folks is what is your commodity? Is it quality content, as one would hope? Or is it simply a few slots in a column on a couple thousand sheets of cheap paper that constitute ad space? Which is the commodity that has value? Don't ya think you oughta' protect that commodity just a little?

THAT question ought to be on the final exam.

metroknow

OK OK I calmed down. Maybe it's not overnight MBAs sinking the ship. But it sure feels good to have a scape goat. I'm pretty sure those are on the taboo list too.

Kevin

Metroknow, I'm sorry about your situation. (Again, I don't know if outsourcing is to blame with the Trib situation.)

The pisser, of course, is that the end result reflects badly on the local workers whose names are attached to the product, not the anonymice in the Philippines or China who are just trying to make a living themselves.

I hate to think that the MBA crowd you mention is just looking for word glue to stick the advertisements together. But I do think that sometimes, and for good reason.

As for the ad staffs - I feel sorry for them, too. Often they're seen as the adversaries of the editorial side (simply because they earn a lot more than most writers), but in my experience ad reps are almost universally glass-half-full people, and they WANT to walk into a potential client's office and be proud of the product they're selling.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I feel sorry for both the writers/editors at the Tribune, and the ad reps. Those who are so concerned with saving a few bucks that they devalue the commodity, not so much.

You've got me thinking, and this may be a separate blog post of its own; it's a big topic. Thanks.

metroknow

I would love to read an informed discussion on the subject. I certainly don't envy the folks having to make these tough decisions.

retreadranger

> It might be staffers - like a web
> person they hired to put stories
> online who isn't much of a writer.
> News organizations have a habit of
> hiring 'computer geeks' instead of
> actual writers for their web content.

I wonder about that, too: whether because of staff issues, or a more hurried pace, do web editions end up with more typos than print editions? Last week I noted the "lose/loose" error in a headline on the Washington Post (!) web page.... it was corrected quickly, but I can't believe a howler like that would ever have made it to print. (Right? Right? Please say I'm right.)

Cathy

Would it be safe to say it's connected to the larger issue of a few mega-corporations owning 99% of the media?
Have you read Dan Rather's speech at the National Conference for Media Reform hosted by Free Press?
http://www.freepress.net/node/41347

There's also a video floating around of Bill Moyer's speech at the same event. It's worth a listen.

SmellTheSage

As far as I am concerned if it isn’t published in one of my pre approved publications like the Barfly Rag for example with quotes from the local watering holes peer groups including discussions from the barstools with substance, drunken logic including data with catsup and tarter sauce all over it I may not even consider it worthwhile and reliable.

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