Gannett last week told 485 back-office workers their jobs would be outsourced to a company in India, as the news publisher seeks to cut costs. The company described its plans in a frequently asked
questions document cited by Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at Poynter
The report is another reminder of the global outsourcing phenomenon that New York Timescolumnist Thomas L. Friedman described in his bestseller "The World Is Flat." One of the main ideas
in the book was how advancements in telecommunications had erased geographic boundaries, turning the world into one big virtual workplace.
The transformation has meant that information-based
jobs, ranging from the most menial, like payroll processing and handling bills in the case of Gannett, to more advanced tasks, like designing software, can be sent overseas.
Gannett, which publishes more than 250 titles, including USA Today, will notify affected employees by Jan. 15. They will have until April to find other jobs. Some workers will be tasked
with training their replacements, a ritual that's become all-too-familiar at U.S. companies that outsource jobs.
Gannett's move comes more than a year after acquisition
by New Media Investment Group's GateHouse Media for $1.4 billion
in 2019. In discussing the deal, Chairman-CEO Michael Reed said he expected the combined company to save $300 million in yearly costs.
Other publishers are investing in India -- not
necessarily to outsource U.S. workers, but to support digital expansion with engineering talent that's in high demand. Condé Nast this year opened a global technology center in Bangalore, the
city in India that has established a global reputation as the country's Silicon Valley.
The Condé Nast Technology Lab
was created to support the digital
capabilities of its magazine brands, including Vogue, GQ
and Architectural Digest
while working with its other design and engineering teams worldwide.
The tech hub
had planned to hire 60 people this year and more than quintuple headcount by the end of 2021, as the publisher seeks to develop content that appeals to a generation that's more likely to use Snapchat
or TikTok than to read a print magazine.