City | 10:34 am | June 3, 2009 | By Liane Membis

A New Haven newspaper, made in India

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The phenomenon of five-inch heels, technical support or the latest high-tech gadgets outsourced overseas is nothing new. But a newspaper edition made in India?

Last week, the staff of the New Haven Advocate a joke and made it into a real-life experiment — hiring Indian freelancers to create an entire issue of their newspaper. The move came after a California newspaper, Pasadena Now, famously laid off its editorial staff and outsourced its local coverage to reporters in India, drawing ire from journalists across the country.

Utilizing Craigslist in Bangalore and Mumbai, the Advocate posted an ad in search of journalists to write for the issue on various topics, from sex advice to news. The online postings attracted more than 100 replies from journalists of all stripes.

What the editors found was that — surprise — outsourcing local news coverage was easier said than done. Some writers went missing in action or failed to submit stories; others struggled to deal with the time difference between India and Connecticut. “Old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism is worth the price,” the Advocate concluded. “Presence is what sets local newspapers apart, and what outsourced news could never replace.”

Well said. For the record, we’re not going to be hiring any Indian freelancers any time soon.

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