Disclosure and N&O

After I read the story in Saturday’s News & Observer about Blue Cross Blue Shield looking at off-shoring some of its work and jobs, I couldn’t help but get in touch with my inner cynic.

It seems the folks in Raleigh believe that BCBS outsourcing work overseas is wrong. The story quoted Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, saying, “It’s shocking they would export jobs when the Research Triangle area has all the manpower and expertise to accomplish the task.”

Seemed odd to me that the N&O didn’t mention anywhere in the story that it started sending its circulation and display advertising jobs overseas three years ago. Got a question about your subscription to the paper? Your call to circulation is routed to the Philippines. Want to have someone put together a spiffy ad display? You’ll be talking to someone in India.

The story was reminiscent of the double standard introduced by the N&O in a report in late April that implied that UNC-TV was doing something unethical by airing programs about the Golden Leaf Foundation after accepting money from the nonprofit organization. Only the N&O does the same thing when it takes special interest money to hire reporters and interns.

Now, the off-shoring of jobs by a Triangle company is cast in a very unfavorable light while the paper’s own efforts in that direction are ignored.

American corporations have been outsourcing or off-shoring jobs for years. Lawmakers and labor advocates don’t like it, especially while unemployment rates remain high. “The whole notion of sending jobs offshore is a political hot potato,” UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Jim Johnson said in the Saturday report. “Most companies try to keep it under the radar.”

Looks like the N&O is doing the very same “under the radar” thing. By not mentioning these facts while reporting that others condemn the practice, the N&O is being dishonest to its readers. When the paper made its own move to offshore, it certainly didn’t blast the news in a bold headline on a section front. That smacks of the sort of self-righteous finger pointing that just doesn’t suit The Old Reliable.
–Don Evans

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1 Comment

  1. You make some interesting points. Certainly when I called about a missing N&O yesterday, I clearly got someone overseas.

    1. While it’s interesting to know that the N&O outsources jobs, you don’t seem to be disputing that BCBS does this. That’s a fact worth reporting even if the reporter’s skeletons stay hidden, and I’m glad the N&O did it and not bothered by your points.

    2. As for it being reported as “wrong”. If they said that – I don’t recall – that is not reporting in my opinion because it’s an opinion. It would be reporting if they quoted someone who thinks it’s wrong. And the BCBS action might be wrong in my book, given the special protections they get from the taxpayers.