There was a time when I might have been alarmed at the news that the Orange County Register is farming out some its copy editing and page design to India. These days, it just makes getting laid off seem a remarkably prescient move on my part. Especially when I read this bland justification from deputy editor John Fabris: “In a time of rapid change at newspapers, we are exploring many ways to work efficiently while maintaining quality and improving local coverage.”
Rapid change? You could say that — and show me the newspaper manager who hasn’t said it about a dozen times in the past five years. It’s the part about working efficiently and maintaining quality and improving local coverage that doesn’t ring true. Doing more with less — that mantra has lost its meaning. The ship’s gone down; now it’s all about people like John fighting over seats in the lifeboat. I do look forward to the day when someone decides that deputy editing can also be accomplished more efficiently by a call center in India, but probably by then all the middle managers blowing smoke today will have had the good sense to row elsewhere.
Running a newspaper used to imply a certain commitment to facts and plain language. Even the truth, space permitting. Today it’s just a matter of endlessly repeating feeble euphemisms to obscure the obvious: Newspapers are dying because nobody wants to read newspapers anymore. Advertisers have noticed. Revenue’s tanking and everything must go. As the Boss once observed, these jobs are going boys, and they ain’t coming back. See you in New Delhi.