“Journalist seeking paycheck? Try India”

Journalist seeking paycheck? Try India: As U.S. newsrooms shrivel, India’s are booming. And they’re hiring, not firing reporters and editors.

If ever there was a time to take pity on America’s journalists, this would be it.

The U.S. news industry is bleeding jobs. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 2,400 journalists left newspaper newsrooms last year, either through layoffs or buyouts, leaving the industry with its smallest workforce since 1984. Circulation and revenue are falling across the country, as are share prices: Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher, is seeing its stock trade at around one-third its value a year ago; the New York Times Co. is down 45 percent. Classified advertising revenues have dropped 30 percent over the last two years and the last quarter was one of the industry’s worst ever.

Just how bad can it get? The American Journalism Review’s Charles Layton recently concluded that “we may begin seeing, pretty soon, big American cities with no daily newspaper.”

So, what’s an underemployed journalist to do? Some move on to academia or cross over to the dark side of public relations. But a few forward-thinking souls are heading to a land where journalism jobs not only aren’t disappearing, but are more plentiful by the day: India.

(Thanks to A for the link.)

Question Box

Question Box: Connecting People in Rural India to the Web

Question Box is a simple means for allowing people living in rural India to access the Web:

Question box is a simple telephone intercom. Its purpose is to connect people to the Internet. It requires no literacy or computer skills.

Users place a free call by pushing the green button. They connect to an operator sitting in front of an Internet-enabled computer.

Users ask the operator questions. The operator goes online and finds their answers, translating them into the local language. The operator also sends & receives emails on the caller’s behalf.

In the near future, users will be able to call the operator directly from their telephones.


$150 Per Night to Live Like a Peasant in India

BBC News:

Some of India’s richest people are paying $150 a night to live like peasants at a “native village” in the southern state of Karnataka.

The village, Hessargatta – just outside India’s IT capital, Bangalore – is designed to encourage the preservation of some of India’s rural traditions.

It offers visitors the chance to qualify in tasks like milking cows and looking after the other animals, such as turkeys, ducks, chickens and dogs…

Related: Virtual Airplane Rides in Delhi.

(Via my new favorite blog.)


The World’s Worst Airports

The World's Worst Airports [Not My Image]

“The World’s Worst Airports,” from Foreign Policy, names “five airports around the world that make traveling hell.” They pick those in Dakar, Senegal; New Delhi, India; Mineralnye Vody, Russia; Baghdad; and Paris.

Last year A and I visited Indira Gandhi International Airport, in New Delhi. While the crowds massed outside can, indeed, seem chaotic, I must say the place didn’t seem quite this bad:

Visitors report aggressive panhandlers, filthy bathrooms where attendants charge for toilet paper, and used syringes on the terminal floor. The main terminal building was even closed to visitors for a few months in 1999 after a flight from Nepal was hijacked. Things have hopefully gotten a little safer since an Australian tourist was murdered by a taxi driver leaving IGIA in 2004, prompting the Indian government to form a special tourist police force. But there’s still a danger of things going slightly awry: In 2005, an act of sabotage in an ongoing feud between cable television providers led to a pornographic film appearing on the airport’s television monitors…

I do, however, remember that there were mosquitos inside the terminal. That wasn’t so great. And while our taxi driver certainly didn’t assault us, his ancient Ambassador taxi cab broke down less than five minutes after we left the airport. He fixed the engine with the assistance of nearby pedestrians. And what appeared to be a piece of string.

If you enjoy reading about bad airports, don’t miss this exceptional Economist article from December, 2006: “Kama Sutra and feral cats,” in which the author explains that “to understand contemporary Russia,” one must “consider its airports.”

(Foreign Policy link via World Hum.)


Virtual Airplane Rides in Delhi

Pic from Airplane! [Not My Image]

Times Online:

An Indian entrepreneur has given a new twist to the concept of low-cost airlines. The passengers boarding his Airbus 300 in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because it never takes off.

All they want is the chance to know what it is like to sit on a plane, listen to announcements and be waited on by stewardesses bustling up and down the aisle.

In a country where 99% of the population have never experienced air travel, the “virtual journeys” of Bahadur Chand Gupta, a retired Indian Airlines engineer, have proved a roaring success.

As on an ordinary aircraft, customers buckle themselves in and watch a safety demonstration. But when they look out of the windows, the landscape never changes. Even if “Captain” Gupta wanted to get off the ground, the plane would not go far: it only has one wing and a large part of the tail is missing.

None of that bothers Gupta as he sits at the controls in his cockpit. His regular announcements include, “We will soon be passing through a zone of turbulence” and “We are about to begin our descent into Delhi.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Airplane! Image via Wikipedia.