Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Baltimore Sun to move local jobs to Costa Rica, India and Chicago

By Aaron Cahall,
The Examiner

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Sun newspaper plans to outsource about a dozen jobs in its finance department to Costa Rica and India, as well as Tribune’s Chicago headquarters, by next spring.

A total of 14 positions will be eliminated, said The Sun’s vice president of marketing, Tim Thomas. However, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild put the number of jobs at 11, guild president and Sun reporter Bill Salganik said.

The move would affect the advertising credit and collections section of the department, and it would take place next spring, Thomas said. The company would move a number of jobs to Tribune’s finance service center in Chicago, while others would be contracted to Hewlett-Packard facilities in Costa Rica and India, he said.

Details, including exactly which jobs would be eliminated, are not yet clear, but Salganik said the losses would comprise most of the department. The guild plans to meet with The Sun about the situation, Salganik said, but a date for that meeting has not been set.

Salganik and Thomas both said they expected options for those employees to stay with The Sun, or possibly accept a buyout.

“Under our contract, people can’t be laid off because of outsourcing,” Salganik said. “So they might be offered buyouts, might be retrained or moved elsewhere.”

Salganik said employees were informed of the move in a Wednesday letter, which did not give a specific reason for the decision. Thomas called the move “an effort to improve service to advertisers and reduce costs.” The Tribune Co. is in the midst of a private buyout, and Salganik said he was not aware of any further impending job cuts.

Last year, Tribune announced plans to eliminate 250 jobs at circulation call centers company-wide and to outsource the operation to the Philippines.

While newsroom buyouts and job eliminations have been studied by industry experts, the effect of those same trends on the business side of news organizations is less clear, said Amy Mitchell, deputy director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“The kind of impact buyouts and reallocation will have on the business side, that’s something we’ll have to look at closer,” she said. “There is a question about your ad people knowing the product that they’re representing and selling.”

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