Editorial cartoonists losing their staff jobs has become old news as staff cutbacks at newspaper chains continue, but yesterday was an especially bad day. The Gatehouse chain laid off three staff cartoonists, Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch, Rick McKee of The Augusta Chronicle and Mark Streeter of The Savannah Morning News. They have been regular contributors to our Cagle.com site for close to fifteen years. Gatehouse’s fourth cartoonist, Dave Granlund, was not laid off, apparently because he works under a freelance contract and was not an employee. Beeler and McKee are part of our CagleCartoons.com newspaper syndicate and are among our most popular cartoonists.
Gatehouse is America’s largest newspaper chain in terms of number of newspapers. (Gannett is the largest newspaper chain in term of number of readers.) The three cartoonists who were laid off were part of Gatehouse’s “More Content Now” shared services, distributing their work in internal syndication to all of the Gatehouse newspapers, so their loss will be felt by a large number of newspapers. Even though the value of the creative contribution of the three cartoonists’ work was multiplied across all the newspapers in the Gatehouse chain, making them much more valuable than the other employees laid off in this round of cuts, this cost-cutting move by Gatehouse doesn’t come as a surprise.
Rick tells me he hopes to continue drawing cartoons for the approximately 850 newspapers that subscribe to our syndicate, and I hope the same will be true for Nate. My sincere condolences go out to all three, and I am confident that they will continue to have successful cartooning careers as their work turns in new directions.