Thursday, January 24, 2008

Raleigh N&O Cuts Jobs, Outsourcers

This posted a few hours ago at I follow with comments below the star line.

From - - -

The News & Observer Publishing Co. will cut as many as 16 jobs from its advertising department and begin sending some of that work overseas.

The company has partnered with a Chicago-area company called Affinity Express to help produce and design display ads for the paper. Most of the work by Affinity Express will be done at its production facilities in the Philippines and India.

“These kinds of decisions are never taken lightly,” said Al Autry, the N&O’s senior vice president of advertising. “They are truly done to try to make us a stronger operation in the future.”

Partnering with Affinity Express will allow faster turnaround of work and result in “significant cost savings,” Autry said. He declined to give specific figures.

The 26 employees in the affected department will be able to apply for the 10 remaining positions or other jobs at the N&O.

The ones who are laid off will be eligible for severance packages including health benefits and pay, based on their length of time with the company.

The transition is expected to be complete by May 30.


I’m sorry for the people who will lose their jobs. I hope the N&O actually provides those people with substantial severance packages and not token ones as some news organizations have done.

As far as I know these job losses are the first the N&O has publicly acknowledged as such. It’s previously disguised job losses as part of “reorganization” or the introduction of “new features readers will find in the paper.”

For example, the McClatchy Company, which owns the N&O, recently promoted Melanie Sill who, as N&O executive editor for news, oversaw the paper’s biased, often false and racially inflammatory coverage of the Duke lacrosse case.

Sill's now vice president and executive editor for news at McClatchy's flagship Sacramento Bee.

McClatchy named as Sill’s replacement the N&O’s managing editor, John Dresher, and eliminated the managing editor’s position.

How did the N&O tell readers the managing editor’s position had been eliminated?

Here’s the N&O reporting on it in a Jan. 8 story: “Senior editors take key posts” [excerpt]:

The News & Observer named three senior editors Monday who will run the paper's daily operations and report to Executive Editor John Drescher.

Linda Williams will oversee the daily news report. Steve Riley will be in charge of enterprise reporting, including the Sunday paper, and the visual journalists. Dan Barkin will oversee the online report.

Williams, Riley and Barkin had been deputy managing editors reporting to Drescher when he was managing editor, the No. 2 job in the newsroom. He was named the top editor in October.

The changes will make The N&O newsroom "quicker and more responsive" by cutting a level of management, Drescher said, and will allow the paper to maintain another front-line position, such as a reporter or photographer. ...
The way the N&O reported it, you’d hardly know McClatchy decided to eliminate the managing editor’s position, would you?

The way the N&O reported it reminded me of the story of the man who’d just served 10 years in Leavenworth for bank robbery. He applied for a job at, of all places, a bank.

The bank manager said: “You have a good resume except it says nothing about the last 10 years. What have you done during that time?”

Man: “I had a very secure position at a federal agency in Kansas.”

Today’s N&O report leads me to ask whether the N&O has ever reported on what friends at the N&O tell me is one of the most talked about stories in its newsroom: the crash of McClatchy’s stock price during the past five years from about 60 to a closing price today just below 11?

During those same five years the Dow, despite recent market turmoil, has risen about 50%.

Something else: The N&O regularly blames President Bush for American job losses due to outsourcing.

But I don’t see how it will be able to blame Bush for its own outsourcing.