While newspaper industry layoffs have become sadly familiar over the last decade, following tens of thousands of jobs cut across newsrooms, as well as business, production, and distribution staff, less attention has been paid to attrition in the key area of information technology.
This week, the McClatchy Co. set alarm bells ringing in the publishing IT sector with the revelation that it is downsizing scores of IT employees at its U.S. operation and outsourcing their jobs to India – or in at least some cases, bringing Indian replacements to the U.S. on work visas.
McClatchy, which publishes newspapers including The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, will lay off anywhere from 120 to 150 IT employees in the U.S, whose functions will be transferred to Wipro, an IT services provider based in India.
Computerworld, which first reported the news, noted that McClatchy CEO Pat Talamantes announced the contract with Wipro in a letter to IT employees back in March, but only vaguely alluded to an unspecified number of layoffs. They, safe to say, greatly exceeded expectations.
Indeed, IT has generally been safer than other sectors because of its obvious importance to online publishing, widely agreed to be the “future of media.”
On that note, Computerworld quoted one of the affected employees: “This has taken us all by surprise. I'm not saying that we felt untouchable, as they have been doing layoffs for the past 10 years. But being part of IT, we felt that we had a big part in what happens.”
Another laid off employee was equally frank, telling Computerworld: “"There is something wrong with the system and the laws that allow these kind of things. I understand that cutting costs is important for a company in deep trouble like McClatchy, but bringing underpaid workers from India to replace American workers is just crossing the line.”