There’s nothing new about magazine outsourcing: As someone who makes a living by providing magazine outsourced services, I find it interesting that Business 2.0 “experimented” with outsourcing a section of the magazine to India as part of a package in their August issue due out next week. According to USA Today (scroll down), editor Josh Quittner, says the section came out just fine and ended up costing about half as much as it normally would.
So is outsourcing the wave of the future in magazines? No, says Quittner, 47. “I kind of feel about this the way I feel about the Web in journalism: In my lifetime, outsourcing is not going to threaten my profession. But someday, technology will be sufficiently advanced so that it might.”Quittner says outsourcing is not a threat to people in highly collaborative, creative businesses such as his. “If we put out a magazine that was more straight-out analysis and less narrative reporting, I think you could absolutely outsource,” he says. “But when you add to that the element of locale — the more face-to-face you are with the subject, the better your story — it really becomes something that is not offshoreable. “Add the limitations of the phone system, language barriers and time barriers, and you really throw in a number of insurmountable degrees of difficulty.”
Despite Quittner’s observation, except for a few notable exceptions, magazine publishing is perhaps the most outsourced collaborative business process known. Free lance phtographers, writers, editors, designers and illustrators contribute to most magazines. Pre-press, printing and distribution is outsourced. Fulfillment (the handling of subscriptions, lists, etc.) is outsourced. Marketing services and advertising sales are often outsourced.
Whether or not these services can be “outsourced off-shore” may be up for debate, but whether outsourcing is the “wave of the future” in magazines is pretty-much a done deal.
(Thanks Eddie Rider for the heads-up.)