Can Oz compete in the outsourcing market?

Neighbours should be there for one another


And the process of editing and subbing goes on while those various editions are printed. It is not so much that the paper is tailored to a specific region (although Scottish versions of London-based newspapers are now routinely tailored in such a way), but rather that the news editors all have a good look at what their competitors have run in their first editions and then – well, let's be polite – report what the other papers are saying. It can be quite amusing if you've access to a selection of the different editions (or if you watch, overnight, the web pages changing), seeing how a scoop from one paper in those first editions becomes a story all over all of the papers by the time the London editions are printed.

The implication of this is, of course, that those doing the subediting are really having to work night shifts: certainly afternoon-to-night even if not fully graveyard shifts. Such working patterns imply a wage premium, one that can be cut by instead sending all of that work off to people who are working in the cold hard light of day, those in another time zone.

So while wages might be high – possibly even generally higher – in Australia than in the UK, by shifting work from night shifts to day, money can be saved. In this way, Australia's time zone becomes a competitive advantage. No doubt similar work could be outsourced from East Coast US papers and the like (if they were liberal enough to let go of that function, something the famously anal East Coast US papers are unlikely to relish).

But it has to be more than just wages in general which will make Oz an offshoring outpost, for wages in comparison just aren't low enough, in and of themselves, for it to be viable. The winning factor has to be something like our time zone example.

Kwality [sic] counts

There is also, of course, the issue of quality of the work done. And I don't mean to be rude or nasty, but following this particular paper's subbing errors has been something of a sport for me. For one friend (sadly now dead) was laid off from the Telegraph as a result of this offshoring and another has fled to The Times.

So, while many of these were later corrected, I have collected some ripe examples of what not to write: “an example of companies that are two dominant“, “Misues of personal data led to pensinoer’s death”, “Satellites to monitor cuontries for climate change“, as well as a couple of bad headlines – “Geatest Guitar Riffs Named” and “Sri Lankan Election: Warrior with the President in his Sites".

OK, accepted, these are simply typos and they were indeed corrected eventually. This type of error is simply evidence of people working quickly and online. However, we also find evidence of subeditors not being quite up-to-speed on matters English, which is something of a problem if one is subbing a newspaper for English people.

For example: “Horsemen take part in a Kok-boru, or goat grabbing, competition as part of celebrations to mark the spring equinox in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan” might seem fair enough, for goat-grabbing is is indeed sometimes called Kok-boru (and is generally considered the ancestor of polo). However, in British English, we use another word, Bushkazi, to describe it.


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