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Projo Outsourcing to India, Offers More Buyouts to Staff to “Reduce Payroll Expenses”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

 

There are more changes and cuts hitting the Providence Journal as functions are reportedly being outsourced to India and more buyouts are being offered to the remaining work force. The Providence Journal sent employees a letter on Friday offering yet another buyout to staff. This is just the latest in a number of rounds of layoffs and buyouts that have hit the Projo's newsroom over the past couple of years.

The letter stated in part, "The Providence Journal continues to transform its business and realign resources accordingly. We have worked hard to adapt to changes brought on by the challenges of our changing business model and current economic environment and at the same time serve our customers and community.  Although our efforts have been successful by a number of measures, additional adjustments are needed to properly align our costs with operating revenues."

"People have until next Monday -- legally they can only offer it non-union.  The Guild had to approve it first for union members, which we did," John Hill, President of the Guild, told GoLocal.

 

 

The letter goes on to identify the need to cut payroll costs, "Therefore, in order to reduce payroll expenses and provide employees with the option to retire or explore other career options, we are announcing a voluntary severance program which will be offered to all full-time, non union employees."

"We've been told they have a number goal they're trying to hit, we asked if they don't, are there going to be layoffs, and they weren't saying anything about that. From talking with membership, a lot of people were open to the possibility (of a buyout).  Once you declare you can change your mind up until a certain point.  And [ownership] can turn someone down too, if they're the only person on a job for instance," said Hill.

Outsourcing to India

In what could be the latest in GateHouse changes to the Providence Journal, a group entitled "Friends of the Guild" is alleging that the Journal is to "start charging for creative services for ads created in India" for "$10 to $100" per ad. 

"These were created for FREE by hardworking Rhode Islanders whose jobs have been eliminated," wrote the Friends of the Guild in a flyer, which encourages people to contact the GateHouse CEO, Journal Publisher, and Journal Advertising manager. 

When contacted for comment, Guild President John Hill said he didn't know who was behind the flyer.

"As far as I know, there's nothing wrong with what's alleged in there," said Hill. "And as far as GateHouse is concerned, they can run the business the way they want to run it.  We feel that the problem from day one is the homogenized, streamlined approach they've taken to every paper.  We feel they don't allow enough local market adaptation."

In the past few years top reporters, columnists and photographers have left the Projo as a result of layoffs or buyout. In total more than one hundred including Bob Kerr and David Brussart, to name a few. 

In September of 2014: According to internal Providence Newspaper Guild documents, many functions are being outsourced. "To make matters worse, LMG (Local Media Group) officials said they intend to outsource ad makeup work by the pre-pub department in January and the work of the copy desk in February, which could mean as many as 30 more layoffs over those two months. Some new jobs related to that old work might remain after that outsourcing, members were told, but LMG officials wouldn't say how many."

The Projo's union has been devasted by cuts in the past 36 months with more than 100 staff positions eliminated. The Providnce Newspaper Guild tells its members that the new owners have lied about holding salaries level.

In February of 2015: Days after a shaky website redesign launch, where the Providence Journal assumed the same corporate template as other GateHouse Media properties, it is reported by Ian Donnis at RINPR that the Providence Journal will lay off approximately 12 copy desk staffers on Wednesday, February 18, as owner GateHouse Media consolidates those jobs into a Austin, Texas based news hub.  

GoLocalProv first announced the sale of the Providence Journal from Belo Corporation to GateHouse Media in July of 2014, and talk of consolidation has been swirling ever since. 22 journalists including popular columnist Bob Kerr were let go in September, 2014.

In March of 2015: The labor union representing Providence Journal employees who work as inserters for the paper have filed federal charges against new owner GateHouse Media.  

Business Agent Matthew Maini with the Teamsters Local 251, which represents the nearly 60 inserters in the Journal's production side, said that the charges were recently made with the federal government's National Labor Relations Board against the new owners. 

"We have filed the complaint NLRB for "effects bargaining" -- any changes to the workforce, the company is required to bargain with the union, for unilateral changes to the working conditions, which they haven't," said Maini. 

 

Related Slideshow: Where the Former Projo Stars Are Today

Take a look at where the top Providence Journal writers and reporters from the 1990s and 2000s are now reporting. UPDATED April, 2017

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Tom Frank

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Philip Terzian

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Jennifer Levitz

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She was a pitbull State House reporter at the Providence Journal and has made a mark at the New England office of the Wall Street Journal. 

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Washington Post

Kevin Sullivan

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NY Times

C.J. Chivers

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Pulitzer Prize winner in 2017.

Chivers is a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, where he "contributes to the Foreign and Investigative desks of The Times on conflict, politics, crime and human rights from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Georgia, Chechnya and elsewhere on a wide range of assignments."

His assignments are far from his political coverage in Providence City Hall and the State House.

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Cynthia Needham

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Today she serves as the political editor at the Globe and oversees coverage of the State House, City Hall, and Massachusetts politics. She was a political and State House reporter at the Providence Journal.

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Steve Peoples

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Ken Mingis

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