Newspaper Guild says The Commercial Appeal's outsourcing will cause long-term harm
The Commercial Appeal has outsourced nearly its entire circulation customer service department and stepped up outsourcing of advertising design services.
Starting Aug. 27, calls about undelivered newspapers, vacation stops and new subscriptions were switched over to an Arizona-based operator of call centers. The CA's in-house call center was deactivated.
Fifteen circulation customer service employees were relieved of duty and told they would be paid through Sept. 7. Company officials told the Memphis Newspaper Guild that customer service calls would be handled by Circseller, also known as Unique Communications Group Inc.
Additionally, two advertising artists lost their jobs. The company said it was increasing the flow of business to 2AdPro, a provider of graphic design services in India.
Newspaper officials described the outsourcing as a part of a streamlining initiative, known as Scripps 3.0, which E.W. Scripps Co. in Cincinnati is carrying out at its 13 newspapers.
Memphis Newspaper Guild president Wayne Risher said: "With these outsourcings, The Commercial Appeal’s corporate overseers have taken another step down the road to stamping out the 'local' in local newspaper.
"It's bad news for our subscribers, whose calls about billing and delivery issues will no longer be answered by Greater Memphis residents who speak their language and know their community.
"It's devastating for the employees, who find themselves suddenly jobless and facing loss of health insurance coverage.
"It diminishes the media company's investment in the Greater Memphis community, and it flies in the face of America's growing preference for spending locally and buying locally.
"It will no doubt further drain the newspaper's depleted reservoir of good will, perhaps giving people in the Memphis community one more reason not to support our enterprise. In the long run, that hurts our ability to provide quality local journalism."
The Commercial Appeal has been sending a portion of its advertising graphic design work to 2AdPro in India for several years.
The service boasts low cost and quick turnaround, but the finished product’s quality is so inconsistent that advertisements often must be reworked by the newspaper's shrinking staff of in-house designers before it can be published.
The Newspaper Guild, which represents employees in news, advertising, circulation and business departments, conducted a session Sept. 1 to help newly displaced employees with financial planning and preparations for job searches.