Now Reuters to outsource to India

LONDON: Outsourcing to India has now spread to journalism.

Reuters, which is implementing a massive cost-cutting programme, is to try out the reporting of Western business news from a base in Bangalore.

India has seen a flood of call centre and IT jobs from the West but now companies are looking at putting core operations and more sophisticated positions, such as equity research, in the country.

Reuters is to hire a reporting team to work alongside its existing data-entry operation in Bangalore.

Initially only half a dozen journalists will be taken on for the pilot scheme. They will concentrate on reporting about small and medium-sized companies listed in the United States.

David Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor, said depending on the results of the trial, the journalism operation in Bangalore could be significantly expanded.

"It's not just call centre jobs in India any more. What is very appealing is that there are a very well-educated people there, with good English...It's a question of doing work where it is best suited," he said.

Schlesinger said the Indian journalists would do "basic" reporting from "standardised announcements" such as company results. If the story turned out to need further investigation and interviews with company officials, Reuters journalists in the US would take over to produce updated versions of the news.

The move would enable Reuters to expand its coverage of small and medium-sized companies and that "cost was only one factor" in hiring the new journalists in India.

"We will still have journalists elsewhere doing the value-added stuff. This will free up journalists in the West for value-added, such as interviewing," Schlesinger said.

Although Reuters is going through a restructuring process, which will see the loss of 5,000 jobs, the number of reporting positions has been almost completely protected from the drive to reduce the cost base by one billion pounds.

The company's revenues have plummeted over the past three years as its customers in the financial services industry have retrenched.

"This pilot will not affect the jobs of any current employees," Schlesinger said.

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