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Since You Asked: No news is good and bad news

It seems the Mail Tribune is using more and more "For the Mail Tribune" writers. Is there a reason for outsourcing your reporting?

You have switched the Jacksonville reporter from an employed employee to a "stringer." Do contract reporters come to the Mail Tribune with ideas or are they assigned articles to write?

In the light of this switchover, will you be using reporters from India anytime soon?

— Larry S., Jacksonville

We sense you suspect a sinister shadow story behind the scenes here Larry, but we're happy to inform you that it's just business as usual at the Mail Tribune.

"For the Mail Tribune" means it is written either by staffers at our sister paper, the Daily Tidings in Ashland, or by a local freelancer or "stringer." We have had a sizeable group of freelancers for quite a while now; they are essentially private contractors who help us better cover our very large readership area.

Staff reporter Sanne Specht, who used to cover Jacksonville, Gold Hill and Rogue River, has not been reported mysteriously missing, laid off or shipped to a maquiladora in Mexico. She's flattered to know you miss her, but she's now covering our courts and social services beats, taking that role over from Sarah Lemon, who has moved on to greener pastures in food and features, a position we did not have before she took it on. Specht also (voluntarily) writes a blog on pets at the MT Web site and occasional columns on Sunday's page 2A.

Freelancer Tony Boom covers Talent and Jacksonville for us. He promises us he still lives in Ashland and has not moved to Mumbai. We've been to his house and are convinced a doppelganger has not taken his place — but it is Ashland and stranger things have been known to happen there. If you have information otherwise from your surely reputable sources, please do let us know.

By your India outsourcing reference we assume you're implying we're going the way of the upstart Pasadena Now Web site, which in May made news that its owner intended to hire two reporters to cover the city of Pasadena, Calif., from their homes in India. For the record, that Web site is hardly more than an advertising vehicle with local themed press releases and little or no actual reporting. Checking recently we could find no bylines, much less any with Indian names, so it appears their controversial outsourcing experiment failed. We could have told them that.

Full disclosure: We do have to inform you, Larry (clearly a regular SYA reader, thanks!), that SYA has in fact been outsourced to China. We're now 90 percent plastic wheat gluten filler and covered with lead paint, so don't put this column in your mouth!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. The volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.