Copyediting in India

Prestigious North American and British publishers have, over the last three decades, been outsourcing copyediting work to India. Newspapers have been among the more recent to jump onto the offshoring bandwagon, and controversy abounds. On one side of the debate is the view that “while Indian editors may be very good at what they do, copy editors need to be part of the local fabric of the community to do their jobs well.” Would an American be able to copy edit an Indian newspaper as well as an Indian copy editor? Some think not.

In a recent post to a LinkedIn discussion group, the debate surfaced again. Writes Wendalyn Nichols, editor of the popular newsletter Copyediting, “From my perspective, what people in India who want to copyedit need most is a reality check: I have yet to receive an error-free query or pitch from someone in India who is asking about copyediting opportunities or trying to sell copyediting services–and that is putting it kindly! The general skill level of editors themselves sorely needs attention.” Not taking this lying down, one manager with a Delhi BPO that offers copyediting services to an impressive range of international publishers offers this polite rejoinder: “Indian copyeditors have always been on par with and may be even better than their counterparts across the world.”

For an all-out virtual slugfest on this very subject, check out the comments section of this exchange at Poynter.org.

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