Offshoring wave engulfs UK media professionals

The world's leading news agency, Reuters, is to axe 20 journalists in the US and Europe because it wants to employ cheaper remote correspondents from its Bangalore office.

Currently there are only six news reporters employed in Southern India, but numbers are to increase to 40, leading to 20 redundancies in America and Europe.

An undisclosed number of losses will come from Reuters operations based in London.

The move to expand on the sub-continent is the first time offshoring has hit journalists and media professionals in the UK.

In Bangalore, the journalists will be paid a quarter of the amount staff could expect in Britain, where a trainee receives about £26,000.

The new recruits will be selected from a mixture of local reporters and graduates, adding to the 2,300 reporters already employed by the agency worldwide.

In April, the company set up a recruitment scheme and hired the six correspondents who now write stories and compose tables on the American stock markets.

David Schlesinger, global managing editor at Reuters, said: "My hope is that subscribers won't notice where a story is written. I don't think you can tell whether a story is written or edited in London, New York or Bangalore."

He added that much of the success of the scheme was down to advances in technology and a cheaper overall cost of employing suitable staff overseas.

"Now, with the technology available, we are able to base more operations where we can be more efficient and when we can get trained, experienced people for a much lower cost."

Reuters explained that after being in India for many years they have always employed local journalists for their news bureaus in Delhi and Mumbai.

They said they further intend to uproot the news agency's global editorial reference unit in London and move it to India.

Forrester research shows that over the next ten years 750,000 UK jobs will be offshored with 4,000 of those lost from Britain's media sector.

Reuters' competitors, Bloomberg and Dow Jones have said they have no plans to follow suit but will be watching to see what happens with interest.

 

24th August 2004

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