A day after the publisher of the Boulder Camera, Times-Call and other local newspapers denied reports of outsourcing and numerous layoffs at his company, he announced Tuesday that Prairie Mountain Publishing is laying off 17 employees and outsourcing ad design and production functions.
When asked about a tip that Boulder Weekly had received about the move, Camera Publisher Al Manzi acknowledged on Feb. 6 that there could be one layoff when the work of a four-person layout production operation is relocated to The Denver Post, which is also owned by MediaNews Group. But he called reports of almost 20 people being laid off and ad design functions being outsourced to a company in India “speculation, not accurate.”
However, according to a news story posted to the Camera website the day after Boulder Weekly’s inquiry, plans call for eliminating another 15 positions as part of a broader initiative by Digital First Media (a partnership operated by MediaNews and the Journal Register Co.) “to outsource print and digital advertising design operations to Illinois-based Affinity Express. Affinity Express, an advertising production firm, has locations in India and Indonesia.”
When interviewed the day before, Manzi did acknowledge that outsourcing would not be inconsistent with the views of the new CEO of MediaNews.
“We are constantly looking for ways to become more efficient, whatever direction that takes, because, as the CEO of the company has said, we’ve got to make sure we’re cognizant of the reduction of legacy costs so we can grow into our digital future.”
John Paton, who was named to replace former MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton in September, writes in blog posts about the need to “stop, reduce, outsource and sell all legacy cost areas” and “slay the production god” by focusing resources on journalism and ad sales, eliminating infrastructure expenses.
When asked whether there are concerns about how outsourcing to other countries might be viewed by the public, Manzi replied, “No, because we’re in a global economy. Your computer, probably half the stuff in it is made somewhere else. We can no longer be myopic and protectionist in the way we look at our economies. … That’s not what Boulder is about; that’s not what America is about.”
The Camera reported that Prairie Mountain will give affected employees severance packages based on workers’ years of service. The transitions to Affinity Express and the Post are expected within the next three months.
Outsourcing ad design and production work overseas is nothing new for corporate media conglomerates.
For example, in 2008, Gannett Corporation outsourced a large number of advertising production jobs to a company called 2adPro, which is based in India.