Kathy Chu of USA Today was on vacation in the Philippines when she realized how many people were employed by call centers.
“As I started to look into the subject, I found that the Philippines was surpassing India in certain measures with its call centers,” she says. “This news made the story timely to do.”
That led to a story co-written with Michelle Yun that says:
“The Philippines now leads India in call-center jobs, employing 350,000 compared with India’s 330,000, according to the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, which represents the country’s call-center operators. The association estimates that Philippines call centers produced $6.3 billion in revenue last year, and that the figure will grow 15% to 20% a year as multinationals increasingly set up shop here. By comparison, India’s call centers likely generated $5.6 billion to $5.9 billion in revenue last year, according to Dallas-based advisory firm Everest Group.”
When you’re working on a story that spans several countries, find expert voices and relevant data in each one, Kathy says.
Kathy says reporters have to let the data guide the story not the other way around. Kathy and Michelle found several associations, advisory firms and analysts to support the story. Kathy says that meant continuously searching for data until the deadline.
“The key, I think, is to give yourself enough time to be able to do justice to the subject,” she says.
The story also includes good information about companies sending their calls to the Philippines. Kathy says many companies are sensitive about the topic and won’t readily disclose the information. She suggests reviewing quarterly earnings calls, annual reports and press releases to find information. “But it doesn’t hurt to ask the customer-service representative where they’re located,” she adds.