Copy editors, watch your backs

Dateline: Tue 08 Jul 2008

Thanks to Wilson, who sent along the following Business Week story about an Indian firm's global copy editing business. The story was published today, and here are the first two graphs, dateline India:

"In a squat, gray building in Noida, a leading outsourcing destination 15 miles from New Delhi, is the headquarters of Mindworks Global Media. Here, 90 young men and women peer into their computers, editing copy, designing and laying out pages, and even reporting over the phone. Mindworks isn't a new publication. It's a company to which media groups in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., including the Miami Herald and South China Morning Post, outsource work that journalists and copyeditors usually do. The Mindworks staff works two to three shifts a day, seven days a week. Tony Joseph, 46, an editor-turned-entrepreneur, is Mindworks' founder and chief executive. He sometimes drops by at 6 a.m. to see his employees, just when U.S. clients are putting their papers to bed.

"Mindworks has been handling outsourcing assignments from non-Indian publishers for four years. It expects plenty more business as the cost-cutting in U.S. and European print media grinds on."

In the comments section, somebody has written, "copy editing requires no rocket science." No, but it requires knowledge of a particular community, especially when editing local news. Copy editors at mid-sized newspapers are traditionally the last hurdle before a story gets into print. They double-check math, verify factual information, pay attention to grammar and in general steer papers away from libel lawsuits and save the day.

But at papers where fat profit margins rule, that apparently is no longer a necessary service.

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