How 107 Digital First Media Layoffs Will Impact Denver Post, 96 Sister Papers

Digital First Media's finance shared services center is located at 12320 Oracle Blvd., Suite 310, in Colorado Springs.
Digital First Media's finance shared services center is located at 12320 Oracle Blvd., Suite 310, in Colorado Springs. Google Maps
The Digital First Media plan to lay off 107 employees at a facility in Colorado Springs may not seem to have much of an effect on the Denver Post, which the company owns under the auspices of Alden Global Capital, the predatory hedge fund that's been gutting the paper for short-term profits for years.

But a knowledgeable source tells us that what's referred to internally as Digital First's finance shared services center actually handles financial matters, such as accounts payable and accounts receivable for the Post and all the other DFM media properties — a total of 97, according to its website.

And the plan to ship the jobs out of the country, which seems to portend a complete shutdown of the facility, could have practical repercussions for the Post, which has had some rough experiences when it comes to similar outsourcing in the past.

The roots of the finance shared services center stretch back to the period when the Post and the late, lamented Rocky Mountain News combined their business functions as part of what's known as a joint operating agreement, the source says. Under the JOA, the Rocky's then-owner, E.W. Scripps, handled financial matters for both papers. But when the Rocky folded in 2009, the Post had to take over this task.

In the beginning, the source goes on, a team of about a dozen people handled financial services for the Post and nearby publications such as the Boulder Daily Camera that are part of another DFM entity, Prairie Mountain Publishing (now known as Prairie Mountain Media). Eventually, these folks were relocated to Colorado Springs for reasons that aren't clear to the source — but one possibility is that heading out of the Mile High City would make it more difficult for workers to unionize by way of the Denver Newspaper Guild.

A past demonstration against Alden Global Capital outside the old Denver Post building. - LINDSEY BARTLETT
A past demonstration against Alden Global Capital outside the old Denver Post building.
Lindsey Bartlett
Since 2009, Digital First has moved finance services for all of its publications to the Springs offices, located at 12320 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 310, with the workforce growing to slightly over 100. As such, our source believes that 107 layoffs would affect the entire staff.

News of the layoffs was broken by the Colorado Springs Gazette, which revealed that "Digital First is shifting the work to Genpact Ltd., a New York-based business outsourcing company that employs more than 80,000 people in 20 countries to process transactions for hundreds of Fortune 500 companies."

At present, there are a handful of financial specialists at the Post proper, including chief financial officer Justin Mock.

Potential impacts of internationally outsourcing financial services include difficulties with language and different time zones. Our source says such issues have cropped up in terms of ad building, much of which is being handled by organizations in India; other problems occurred after the main call center was relocated to Honduras. The latter situation resulted in the call center being moved back to the United States, specifically to Arizona.

This time around, the layoffs aren't taking place in the Post newsroom, which has lost about a third of its shrinking staff thus far in 2018. But it certainly won't make for a happy holiday season for the Digital First Media workers in Colorado Springs. The layoffs are reportedly getting under way on December 28 and will continue through the first couple of months of 2019.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts