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Letter From The Editor

Hypocrisy works overtime in the Commercial Appeal editor's office.

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In his Sunday column, titled "Anxiety Works Overtime on This Labor Day Weekend," Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck remembered a blissful time when "Labor Day was about grilling steaks and not about sweating over your job."

Peck noted that if you work at, say, Pinnacle Airlines or Accredo Health or FedEx, "you may be worrying this weekend," adding, "Now Labor Day seems more like a day when you check your personal ship to make sure it isn't sinking."

What Peck didn't note is the fact that The Commercial Appeal laid off 17 people on August 27th, five days before the editor published his oh-so-simpatico ode to the perils of the job market. Sinking ships, indeed.

From a Memphis Newspaper Guild press release: "The Commercial Appeal has outsourced nearly its entire circulation customer service department and stepped up outsourcing of advertising design services.

"Starting August 27, calls about undelivered newspapers, vacation stops, and new subscriptions were switched over to an Arizona-based operator of call centers. The CA's in-house call center was deactivated.

"Fifteen circulation customer service employees were relieved of duty and told they would be paid through September 7th. Company officials told the Guild that customer service calls would be handled by Circseller, also known as Unique Communications Group Inc.

"Additionally, two advertising artists lost their jobs. The company said it was increasing the flow of business to 2AdPro, a provider of graphic design services in India."

Look, I get it. The Commercial Appeal is owned by E.W. Scripps, a big media company that's more worried about its bottom line and the profit margin for its investors than it is about 17 newly unemployed Memphians. There's not much Peck can do about that. (To his credit, Peck did not boast about how the CA had managed to lower the unemployment rate in Arizona and India.) But forgive me for thinking this column seemed a bit hypocritical, not to mention exceedingly tone-deaf.

Peck continued: "Half the people on Earth who are looking for a real job can't find one. Against that backdrop, we're not as bad off in the United States, or in Memphis.

"But the anxiety over finding and keeping a job is no less real for us. The ill winds of too few jobs and too much underemployment are felt even in the heat of early September."

Or late August, for that matter. Just down the hall.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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