Matthew Norman: Beware of the Bangalore Express

It is the deepest instinct of those marooned in the darkest of dark days to search for the light at the end of the tunnel, and with help from The New York Times's Maureen Dowd, I believe I may just have found it.

Unfortunately, it's the Bangalore Express coming to flatten us all. Ms Dowd describes a development so surreal that, not long ago, it would have been dismissed as crass satire. It concerns a certain James Macpherson, publisher of the online local "paper" Pasadena Now, who has outsourced all the journalism that fills his site to India. "Glocal News" is Macpherson's term for the practice of paying Indians to cover everything from local politics to the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in that California town.

He and his wife sacked their seven staffers a year ago, and advertised on Craigslist.com for six subcontinental replacements, to whom they now email press releases and give access to political debate through live video-streaming from a cellphone at City Hall. One of them, in the southern town of Mysore, says that she never previously regarded herself as a journalist, quite possibly because she wasn't one, and thought that the Rose Bowl was a foodie event.

The generous fee for their work is a little less than a fiver ($7.50) per thousand words, and, needless to say, this splendid innovation is already catching on in the States. The head of one media group (who moonlights, encouragingly enough, as chairman of Associated Press) publicly toys with creating a unified newsdesk for all his local papers and siting it offshore. Even more needless to say, the trend that hasn't made the easterly journey across the Atlantic has yet to be born. The Lord knows which genius will pioneer it over here, but one of these days, David Montgomery will surely return from his European adventures to repurchase the Mirror Group, and then the merriment can begin.

Even Madder Mel

One titan of the press whose work could never be outsourced is Melanie Phillips. There simply isn't another one like her on the planet, and the odds are that there never will be. Mel has been on comparatively sedate form in the Daily Mail lately, but on her blog (hosted, curiously, by the Spectator's website) she scintillates as seldom before. Her current primary obsession involves Barack Obama's secret plan to facilitate the destruction of Israel, and fans of her work (and which of us isn't?) may enjoy the lengthy letter to the Spectator site in which Chris Patten unleashes a point by point dismantling of one particularly lively recent post. As ever with Mad Mel, whose apology for propagating the nonsense about the MMR jab that created the current measles epidemic is expected imminently, inconvenient facts inconvenience her barely at all.

She has mentioned Obama's appointment, as his chief of staff, of Rahm Emanuel, son of an Israeli and pretty much a Zionist himself, in passing. But as West Wing fans will recall from Leo McGarry's minimal Oval Office role, that's a very minor job in a US administration, and you can't linger on red herrings for long when the siren call of paranoid dementia fills the eardrum.

Wishful thinking

Apologies for last week's cock-up. It wasn't a major howler by my own impeccable standards, because this column is filed on a Friday. Even so, well knowing the perils of the longish lead time, it was naive to express concern, in the light of the Gordon Ramsay adultery story, that the Rachel Royce piece about being married to a love rat (Rod Liddle) – the one we so enjoy, on average, every other month – hadn't had its obligatory run-out. It duly appeared on Saturday, so sorry for misleading you.

Thanks be to Gaunt

The loss of his radio bully pulpit has had little impact, praise be to the Almighty, on the written work of my favourite columnist. In yet another tour de force, Jon Gaunt treats Sun readers to his thoughts on the Shannon Matthews case, positing that the way to help the children of the underclass is to impoverish them further by denying their parents any welfare benefits at all. It's an intriguing theory, argued with typical cogency, and anyone who can spy the tiniest hole in the logic is way ahead of me. So, well done, Gaunty, and keep up the good work!

Don't stop the press

Daily Mirror Exclusive of the Week goes to the splash about Paul O'Grady being bitten by an adder that was snoozing in a log that he put on the fire. A crackling brush-with-death front page, then, barely undermined at all by the revelation, carefully husbanded for an inside page, that, far from the presenter being rushed off in an ambulance and pumped full of adrenaline, "medics told him he merely needed to keep an eye on the swelling".

This is the Mirror Group's finest medical splash, according to several leading professors of journalism, since a late Nineties People effort about an ex-EastEnders actor with an entirely benign lump on his back.

Sir Terry traduced

On vaguely similar lines, finally, comprehension problems afflict the editor of the Mirror's online publication. "Wogan Axed" and "Terry Dumped As Eurovision Host" were front-page straplines on Friday, with links to a report beginning thus: "Sir Terry Wogan has quit as the BBC's Eurovision Song Contest presenter ... A source close to the Radio 2 DJ said, 'It is true that Terry has decided to call it a day. He felt the time was right for a change'." Axed and dumped, indeed. This is just the sort of cretinous, low-level deception to which we can wave goodbye when Monty outsources everything, so roll on, the Bangalore Express.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there