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MediaNews Group's Dean Singleton about outsourcing to India

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A feature article about the difficulties facing the up-for-sale Rocky Mountain News plus a sidebar about Rocky journalists who could land at the Denver Post and a piece about the Rocky-Post joint operating agreement appear in the December 11 Westword. As a bonus, we're also offering a series of outtakes from interviews conducted for those pieces, including the Rocky's John Temple questioning the timing of a controversial memo authored by Dean Singleton (pictured), head of MediaNews Group, a Denver-based newspaper chain whose flagship paper is the Denver Post.

Here, Singleton takes on another subject -- his views about outsourcing. In an October speech, he suggested that newspapers consider the approach as a way to save money in the present economic climate. "In today's world, whether your desk is down the hall or around the world, from a computer standpoint, it doesn't matter," he said, adding, "One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews... maybe even offshore." As noted in our blog "Dean Singleton's Outsourcing Ideas Taken to Their Logical Conclusion, the New York Times' Maureen Dowd resurrected these remarks in a recent column about a Pasadena publisher whose staff reports on Southern California happenings from India.

Singleton's made footprints in India, too. But he says some of the things he talked about a couple of months ago won't be coming to fruition -- in the near term, at least.

"We are doing pre-press work in India and have been doing it for more than two years -- and it's worked very well," Singleton says. "We've explored outsourcing copy editing and page makeup in India, too, but we probably won't do that. I think we're finding we can consolidate within our newspapers and get the same savings we can offshore. We probably won't put any news operations there -- and we weren't talking about reporting and editing. We were talking about copy editing and page design, and I think we've found we can do it just as well ourselves here.

"Would we do it if it made a lot of sense?" he asks. "Sure we would. It doesn't mean we're going to -- but we're not alone in thinking about it. I happened to be the one giving the speech, but virtually every newspaper company in America is exploring the same thing." -- Michael Roberts

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