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Black Ink Monday – Outsourcing News Editorial

Black Ink Monday – Outsourcing News Editorial – A Compilation

Compiled by Carolyn Kay

If no one is willing to pay the creators, who will create? We’re in for a mighty bleak world when newspapers stop paying editorial cartoonists.

[Click here to see many more fine cartoons on this subject. The AAEC has posted 99 of them.—Caro]

*** The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists ***

Black Ink Monday

December 12, 2005

Black Ink Monday, a non-violent protest by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), is a response to the Tribune Company's recent elimination of editorial cartooning positions at several of its newspapers, as well as a commentary on newspapers everywhere who have lost sight of the value of having a staff editorial cartoonist.

Are you as mad as we are? If so, tell it to the Tribune Company's Gary Weitman, VP of Communications:

Humor Ink

*** Press Release ***
Association of American Editorial Cartoonists


Since Ben Franklin and colonial times, the editorial cartoon has been one of the most visible and popular parts of the daily paper. However, recent changes within the newspaper industry have placed this American institution at risk.

Over the last 20 years, the number of cartoonists on the staff of daily newspapers nationwide has been cut in half. In the last month alone, the Tribune Company (owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and a half-dozen other prominent papers), has forced out well-known and award-winning cartoonists at the LA Times and Baltimore Sun, eliminating their positions entirely.

Now, editorial cartoonists are responding to these cuts, in the best way they know how — by throwing ink.

On Monday, Dec. 12, [2005] dozens of editorial cartoonists will band together for "Black Ink Monday," unleashing their biting commentary on the current state of affairs in the newspaper business, with a specific emphasis on corporate downsizing.

These cartoons will be posted on (home of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) and — hopefully — in various papers across the country. The AAEC intends to use the protest to draw attention to, not just the loss of individual jobs, but the wholesale weakening of the daily newspaper.

In an open letter to Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons, AAEC President Clay Bennett recently wrote: "There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoonist does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit."...

Nick Anderson, The Louisville Courier-Journal, KY

It’s not just cartoonists who are getting fired from newspapers right and left

*** Columbia Journalism Review ***

Oct. 04, 2005 - 3:42 PM
Auletta's Opus, and Warring Novelists
Gal Beckerman

Ken Auletta's profile of the Los Angeles Times in this week's New Yorker offers some insight into what went wrong after the Tribune Company bought the Times five years ago from the Chandler family (unfortunately, the piece is not available online).

The challenge this purchase presented was, as John Carroll, the star editor brought in by the Tribune Company, put it, "whether a newspaper chain can produce a first-rate newspaper?"

Carroll answers his own question -- remember, he left this summer, and his bosses weren't sorry to see him go -- thusly: "It may be that it is simply structurally impossible."

We have to agree. The picture Auletta paints is one of a newsroom annoyed by the incessant demands of its owners to meet projected profit margins, encouraged to try every new "management fad" under the sun. And, on the other side, an owner frustrated that the Times' editors were worrying more about how to win Pulitzers than about how to cut costs.

Summing up the friction, Auletta writes: "Clearly, the news side saw itself at war with people who had minimal interest in ambitious journalism, and the 'suits' saw themselves in conflict with sanctimonious and unrealistic idealists."

Auletta also tells the full story of how Carroll finally folded. The deteriorating economic situation of the paper (which we wrote about yesterday) prompted the Tribune Company to snip and slash away at Carroll's newsroom budget year after year. When, this spring, the suits proposed new cuts that would "be based on a formula that pegged the newsroom budget to a fixed percentage of revenue; if revenue rose, the cuts went down," it was apparently too much for Carroll.

Upon Carroll's resignation, and after some tense negotiations, Tribune Company appointed his deputy, the well-liked Dean Baquet, to take over. The storm seems to have settled for now, but we get the sense that this is a tension that has no easy resolution. The CEO of the Tribune Company, Dennis Fitzsimmons, is still saying that "Publishing a paper that just we like maybe isn't enough in this environment. We have to be more open to what consumers want."

That's a far cry from the credo of Baquet, who says in the piece's final paragraphs that immediate gratification for his readers is not his top priority. "It's not always our job to give readers what they want," Baquet told Auletta. "What if they don't want war coverage or foreign coverage or to see poverty in their communities? Southern newspapers are still hanging their heads because generations ago they gave readers what they wanted -- no coverage of segregation and the civil rights movement." Baquet closes with this thought: If newspapers aren't there to help readers understand the world, "who will?"…

Daryl Cagle, Cagle Cartoons

Having seen a lot of technical work move overseas, undercutting my computer consulting business, I was interested when the Chicago Tribune printed an anti-tariff editorial a year and a half ago.

*** Chicago Tribune ***

Dumping on China
Published July 3, 2004

On his recent swing through China, Commerce Secretary Don Evans signed several U.S-China business agreements and extolled the virtues of free and fair trade. "Markets work best when they are free from government intervention," he told students in Harbin.

He didn't mention the U.S. government intervention in markets that occurred a few days earlier, on June 18, when the Commerce Department slapped punitive tariffs on Chinese bedroom furniture after finding such furniture is being dumped in the U.S…

The Chinese are protesting, and furniture retailers are protesting. Anyone in the market for a new bed ought to be protesting. The tariffs are well below the 400 or so percent sought by U.S. manufacturers, but that's not the point. There shouldn't be any punitive tariffs…


This was my letter to the editor regarding that editorial.

I wonder what you'll have to say about "dumping" and "market distortions" when the editing of the Chicago Tribune moves to India. Oops, you won't have a public platform to say anything about it, will you?

– Carolyn Kay


Mike Keefe, The Denver Post, CO

Little did I know at the time that the outsourcing of reporting and editorial jobs had already started.

*** Business Week ***

MARCH 4, 2004
Reuters' Offshore "Experiment"
Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger talks about why the news service is hiring reporters in Bangalore to cover U.S. companies

Now you can add journalist to the growing list of white-collar jobs -- along with radiologist, animator, and Wall Street analyst -- that can be outsourced overseas. Reuters, the British news agency that employs some 2,400 journalists and photographers around the globe, said last month that it would hire six journalists in Bangalore, India, to cover news on small- and mid-cap U.S. companies.

Technically, it isn't outsourcing, which involves handing off work to another company, says David Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor, who's based in New York. The Bangalore scribes will be Reuters employees with Reuters training. Even so, under what the company is calling a pilot program, they'll be doing something unusual in a news organization: Covering U.S. companies from a distant shore. Mainly, it will be grunt work -- writing routine financial news stories from corporate press releases.

It may seem a bit odd that a profession that's already known for modest pay -- trust me, the multimillion-dollar contracts of TV news personalities such Barbara Walters are the exception -- is the latest to be shipped to a low-wage country. But thanks to union agreements, Reuters journalists in the U.S. make a decent living. An entry-level reporter in New York can earn about $58,000 a year, says Peter Szekely, chairman of the Reuters unit of the Newspaper Guild of New York…

Elena Steier, Center for American Blogress

*** Global Journalist ***

Outsourcing the Western Media
Outsourcing is journalism's newest labor issue, with hundreds of Reuters jobs moving to India by 2006. News agencies see it as cutting costs, but journalist organizations question the quality.
By Ron Chepesiuk

Some 25 members of the Newspaper Guild of New York gathered in the rain outside the Reuters office in Times Square on Oct. 19 [2005]. The members set up a picket line and chanted, “One, two, three, four, no more jobs to Bangalore!” and “Hey, hey, whatyasay, keep our jobs in the U.S.A.” The picketers, members of the guild, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, had worked as Reuters employees without a new contract for two years and were taking action against the latest trend in journalism employment – outsourcing.

Journalists have written for years about outsourcing, or off-shoring, and how it affects workers in manufacturing and professional fields. However in 2004, Reuters, a multimedia news agency and leading source of breaking news, stock quotes and other global business data, made journalism jobs part of the outsourcing story when it became the first major news organization to try to cover developments on Wall Street from India.

The picket line in October was one of the recent skirmishes in an increasingly bitter dispute between Reuters and its employees over job security. Reuters’ move is part of a major shift in its operations from its Western base to India. By the end of 2005, Reuters’ Bangalore office will employ 1,000 workers and by mid- 2006 that figure is expected to increase to between 1,200 and 1,800 workers, or approximately 10 percent of the company’s work force.

About 50 of the jobs will be editing and writing, Reuters has said. The rest will be extracting basic financial information from company news releases and quarterly earnings reports. The news service is also planning to move its photo editing desks in Canada and Washington, D.C., to Singapore…

Mike Lane, The Baltimore Sun, MD


[Click here to see many more fine cartoons on this subject. The AAEC has posted 99 of them.—Caro]

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