The news that the website PasadenaNow has made it a policy to outsource its local coverage overseas has started to reverberate around the web today. Curiously, no one's really talking about how all this makes Pasadena look: clearly it's not the most culturally complicated community. It's certainly not a Fresno, with its seamy karaoke circuit and middle aged pranksters pulling stunts worthy of Improv Everywhere.
Naturally, media types are mostly concerned for what this means to media types, and while no one's sounding the panic, yet (still too terrified of Rupes, natch), the PasadenaNow story has given way to some dark musings. Over at The Atlantic, our buddy Matthew Yglesias sums it up:
I have this longstanding, but also fairly obvious, joke about how someday soon all of us working in this here game are going to be replaced by low-wage Bangladeshi pundits. Now, at last, that day seems to be inching closer as the Pasadena Now web site apparently posted an ad saying "We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA."
This does strike me as somewhat weird since local news reporting would seem to be less outsourceable than many other forms of journalism. For punditry and so forth, it does help to be here in The Nation's Capital, but it's really not all that helpful. Most of any pundit's information comes from reading the newspaper and the newspapers are all online and readable from India or wherever.
Now, we don't think Ygglz is any real danger. He's a thoughtful soul, and, anyway, I'd like to see a Calcutta wage-slave break down the goings-on of the National Basketball Association with the same level of gravitas. But, in our opinion, sending most punditry overseas would only be the tip of the iceberg as far as potential slash-and-burn cost cutting measures go. When's the last time, after all, you read one of the Punditosphere's A-List and truly been surprised by what you've read? Most opinion pieces are some variation on the following:
You know if [recent breaking news event] teaches us anything, it's that we need to [fund / kill / enact / canoodle with] [thing I've been harping on from here to eternity], but, as usual, the [name of political party] continue to prove themselves to be [out of touch / terror-loving fromagiers / treasonous hellhounds of the end times]. When [that thing] happened [that time], it only underscored a need for [the thing I never shut up about]. Also, [9-11 / Katrina / Virginia Tech / Sanjaya]. But [other people] continue to foolishly maintain that [other thing] is more important! It makes me want to [marry / boff / kill] [that guy who [did / supported] [that thing (remember?)]]! Yeeearrggblargle!
True: the width of the Pacific Ocean would definitely be a boon to most of our news producers, as it would put a sizable distance between them and the loofah-wielding psychopaths in their employ. But considering the endlessly-repeated pundit formula replicated above, you could do a LOT cheaper than sending the labor overseas (just ask Katie Couric!). Heck, get a thesaurus and a wad of chewed up Bubble Yum, and you're pretty much there.