Can outsourcing save Denver

It turns out the JOA in Denver’s eight-year-old unholy union between the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post doesn’t stand for Joint Operating Agreement after all. It stands for Just Outsource it All.

Rocky business columnist David Milstead Tuesday made the case that it’s time to end the combined-business-operation-but-separate-editorial-staff experiment and admit Denver is a now one-major-metro town. He argued that his paper’s paid circulation is stronger than the Post’s but that the Post is the better online brand.

“The two companies could bet it all on one of the brands. Or, oddly enough, the two partners’ best position for the future might be a newspaper called the Rocky Mountain News and a Web site called The Denver Post. The best cost position would be to staff them with one, but not both, of the newsrooms,” Milstead wrote.

But there was a third option he didn’t consider. With Rocky owner E.W. Scripps, Post owner MediaNews Group and other chains like McClatchy slashing staff like mad in recent years, expect some of those jobs to go overseas.

On Wednesday, National Public Radio interviewed Robert Berkeley, CEO of Express KCS, a company with 450 “operators” just outside of New Delhi that provides mostly newspaper production and design but some editing and writing as well.

Berkeley explained in the NPR story that publications that outsource reporting, including online news sites like Pasadena Now, which was widely criticized for the practice last year, are just trying to survive. “If newspapers don’t cut staff, they will lose all of their staff,” Berkeley said.

So call now, Denver City Council, operators are standing by to cover your next meeting.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.

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