Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Reuters Strike Looms: Too Much Too Soon for Offshoring?

The Times of London notes that yes, we do still have unions in the publishing business. Reuters editorial staff has voted unanimously to consider a motion to take targeted job actions against Reuters global operations based on their unfolding strategy of using various global centres to specialize in specific editorial functions. It's a culture shift that will hit all news operations sooner rather than later, but it's doubtless one that cuts to the quick a little more quickly for this venerable news organization founded at the intersection of content and technology over a century ago. Reuters news operations have always been touted as the centre of their cultural mystique, yet have provided a relatively small portion of their revenues since the company opted for more lucrative content services for financial markets. In redefining the nature of the Reuters content business in this new era of distributed editorial development it's important for both sides in this dispute to respect both the realities of shifting requirements for content markets that require new kinds of editorial services and the unique talents that trained journalists bring to that equation. I have nothing but respect for journalists, having lurked with them for so many years, but the trade is changing radically whether they're ready for it or not. Instead of moaning in their beer about how bad things are going down at the blacksmith shop it's time for journalists to set aside pride in past accomplishments and to consider how they can define and position their skills far more effectively in this shifting landscape of content generation. This is a highly emotional issue, but those emotions need to be channeled into defining more effective new roles rather than into trying to hold on to roles that may no longer apply.
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