Monday, August 13, 2012
As some of you know, from time to time I share startling news stories from around the country and the globe so you can share my irrational fear about basically everything, including why I don’t recognize any of the song lyrics my friend posts on Facebook.
It is once again time to update my worry list.
In addition to my fear of unknown Facebook songs, rogue scientists and political lobbyists, I now add the fear of having my job outsourced overseas to dingy sweatshops full of sweaty, nicotine infused reporters who would rather sit around drinking cheap beer and coffee than actually work.
Actually, it sounds a lot like my job now, but I really hate having to move, especially overseas where everyone is foreign.
For those of you who haven’t heard, many large news organizations, including Sam Zell’s Tribune Company, are paying reporters in India and the Philippines to cover local news in U.S. cities.
The advantage, besides paying reporters even less, is the language barrier.
Scene: A Filipino reporter calls the mayor of USAtown for an interview.
After 20 minutes of explaining the current economic slump and how it will affect health benefits for city employees, the mayor hangs up feeling as though the information he or she has given will avert a public relations fiasco.
The reporter, who didn’t understand a word of the interview, sits down to write a scathing expose on the local cat shelter that is allegedly taking kickbacks from Uzbekistani opium dealers.
This is, of course, the story local news reporters would have liked to have written. But the mayor knows where they park, and has access to the parking ticket booklet.
Outsourced news is obviously a major worry, but it’s not a new worry. Local news outsourcing has been going on since 2007. At least.
The new worry is that there is a very real danger newspaper photography will soon be outsourced as well. I am, of course, talking about unmanned aerial vehicles.
Currently, UAVs, or drones, are pretty much restricted to military applications. But local government agencies, including sheriff’s offices and fish and wildlife departments around the nation have been granted permission to use drones.
This is great. I mean, it will save millions in tax dollars and generate millions more in ticket revenues.
Drones, for example, can perch on intersection lights, and when someone runs a red light the drone will just follow them home and print out a traffic ticket while giving them a stern warning on traffic safety.
Drones could also monitor downtown parking and handle the ever-tricky property tax assessment jobs and building inspections. Won’t that be terrific?
What I’m worried about is the private use of drones, scheduled for 2015 according to a Washington Times article written by Ben Wolfgang (We think. Of course, it may have been written by someone named Kim Matapang de la Cruz for all we know.)
For the most part, I trust private citizens and corporations to responsibly use drones as much as I trust government agencies to responsibly use drones. What I am worried about (finally) is drones in the hands of paparazzi, especially outsourced paparazzi photographers.
I know some of you are thinking, “Hey! That’s great! People Magazine will finally be able to compete with the National Enquirer!”
Others of you, the smaller, more sensible portion of my readership, are thinking, “That’s terrible! I don’t want a lot of overhead shots of spoiled stars frolicking on the beach. I want ground-level, booty pics of spoiled stars frolicking on the beach!”
Personally, I wouldn’t really care one way or the other, except celebrity photography is my fallback job in case my current job is outsourced to cheaper, better looking, non-English speaking reporters. I had always planned on buying a really great camera, and then spending roughly eight years learning how to work all the buttons.
I’ll never be able to learn how to operate a drone before I run out of body parts to sell and starve to death. I’ll be out of work, or worse yet, forced to take a position as a lobbyist for the Humane Society.