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Matt Davies cut from the Journal News

Matt Davies, the pulitzer prize editorial cartoonist for the Journal News, was one of 50 who were cut from the paper’s payroll yesterday as the paper cut 25% of their newsroom staff. Matt posted the following on his Facebook on Tuesday evening, “As of August 28th, the position of editorial cartoonist at The Journal News is defunct. Tonight, I cry into my beer. It’s been an amazing 17 years, but tomorrow – onto much bigger, and far better things.”

Matt won his Pulitzer in 2004 and was the very first Herblock winner in 2004.

Hat tip: Rob Tornoe

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
August/13/2009
@ 7:29 am

Hands down, one of the very best in the business today. Yeah, why would a newspaper want to keep a talent like that on the payroll?

#2 Pedro Molina.
August/13/2009
@ 7:52 am

I’m sorry for Matt, one of the finest cartoonist working today, but I feel more sorry for the newspaper industry, once again trying to save their golden eggs by killing the goose that lays them.

#3 John Auchter
August/13/2009
@ 7:53 am

That settles it: Life is officially unfair.

#4 Ted Dawson
August/13/2009
@ 7:55 am

Any cartoonist working for Gannett or any of the other media monsters should probably consider unemployment imminent. Media conglomeration is the disease that has been taking down cartoonists, journalists, and newspapers themselves ever since the first JOA.

Matt is an exceptional talent. No doubt he has been preparing for this and I’ll be interested in seeing what pans he has in the fire.

#5 Corey Pandolph
August/13/2009
@ 8:10 am

“Tonight, I cry into my beer. Itâ??s been an amazing 17 years, but tomorrow â?? onto much bigger, and far better things.â?

This is the statement we all have to commit to memory. It’s fine to opine about the way things were, but if you lack the ability to pick yourself up and move on after a huge setback, then find a new career.

Cartooning has become the baseball of the creative world: A losing battle that only allows success to the absolute committed.

(insert the petty steroid jokes here).

Words and lies,

CP

#6 Mike Lester
August/13/2009
@ 8:20 am

First let me say I am entirely prejudiced in my comments as Matt and I have been friends for some time. I wrote him 7 yrs ago and told him editorial cartooning had never seen anything like his style, wit and approach. I love his stuff. He twists and wrings a scenario like no one else and truly knows from editorial.

I threw my hands in the air when I logged on and read this. WTF is going on???? Where are Americas going to grow a pair and become an army of Howard Beale’s?

#7 Mike Lester
August/13/2009
@ 8:22 am

forgive the typos. I’m royally pissed.

#8 Ann Telnaes
August/13/2009
@ 8:35 am

I don’t usually make comments on websites because of
how poorly I manage my time, but I have to agree with my
friend and talented colleague Mike Lester (and I disagree with him politically about practically everything). Matt Davies is an incredible talent and I am shocked at how short-sighted Gannett is. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

#9 Nate Beeler
August/13/2009
@ 8:46 am

Gannett acted stupidly. Yet another travesty this year. It’s hard to come up with words that don’t have asterisks and exclamation points in them when you keep seeing good guys lose their jobs so undeservedly.

#10 Wiley Miller
August/13/2009
@ 9:04 am

I have to disagree with my friend, Ann.
“Stupid” is far too kind in this instance.

#11 Henry Clausner
August/13/2009
@ 9:14 am

Another sign of the future….I’m wondering if the newspapers have a plan where they can keep the cartoonists, writers and staff!
I have a few ideas to discuss with the publishers over lunch…burp*

#12 Mark_Tatulli
August/13/2009
@ 9:41 am

Only in the movies, Mike, only in the movies.

#13 Nick Anderson
August/13/2009
@ 10:05 am

Matt is definitely one of the best. His work is a daily inspiration. I am astonished.

#14 Matt Bors
August/13/2009
@ 10:13 am

@#$!%

#15 JP Trostle
August/13/2009
@ 10:47 am

It is clear now that newspapers WANT to commit suicide … I say we stand back and let them.

#16 JP Trostle
August/13/2009
@ 10:51 am

Sorry, clarification: most newspapers … there are still a few that are sane and that want our help.

#17 Mike Peterson
August/13/2009
@ 11:01 am

What frustrates me in this is that there was a viable work-around. Various chains are combining a variety of functions, including circ managers, business offices and even publishers among multiple papers in the interest of saving money.

So why couldn’t someone at Gannett HQ say, “Wait, this guy is a Pulitzer Prize winner, he’s a top draw, he’s a franchise player …” and made him an employee of the corporation instead of an employee of the individual paper? That would spread the cost over the chain while maintaining a quality source of material and prestige they could all benefit from.

Why couldn’t they? For the benefit of those who haven’t sat through meetings with the corporate clownocracy, the answer is simple: “Nobody else is doing it.” The only good ideas are those that have been done elsewhere. New ideas are scary and apt to fail. Failure means your head could roll.

And, after all, content is just some crap to keep the ads from butting into each other anyway …

#18 Drew Litton
August/13/2009
@ 11:09 am

Words cannot express the shock and dismay about this announcement. Matt Davies has been, and will continue to be a unique and amazing talent in the field of editorial cartooning. When a talent of that magnitude loses his job you know it’s official. The people who are decision makers in the industry have lost their ever-loving minds.
A long long time ago I can still remember how those cartoons used to make me smile….
from the newest Don Mclean remake “the Day the cartoon died”

#19 Stacy Curtis
August/13/2009
@ 11:17 am

Bigger and better careers are forged from such circumstances.

Good luck, Matt.

#20 Pat Bagley
August/13/2009
@ 1:10 pm

Right-wing bloviators multiply like swine flu while people with real talent (Matt) are victims of the train wreck that is the newspaper industry. Maybe Matt can get a lobotomy and qualify for a new career on radio.

#21 Dave Stephens
August/13/2009
@ 1:51 pm

Uh, yeah, those darn right-wingers are k-k-k-killing the newspaper industry… That makes sense. Oh, that’s not what you meant, I know, but seriously,
If he got a lobotomy and went on Air America, he’d probably be the smartest one there, wouldn’t he? LOL

Bottom Line: Matt is talented and savvy and just like all the others before him, it turns out he is EXPENDABLE. Talent has little to do with it, that’s just the way things are and will continue to be. Only 3% of dailies have an editorial cartoonist on staff. Probably sometime next year it’ll be 1%, I dunno, maybe one half of 1% in 20013. And someday it’ll be zero. I hope t-shirts are still popular by then, ’cause they’ll need some kind of income to pay the mortgage, right?

Ugh.

#22 Mike Lester
August/13/2009
@ 2:52 pm

Pat, you’re absolutely right: I am personally responsible for Matt and Gary losing their job.

#23 John Cole
August/13/2009
@ 3:24 pm

Matt will land on his feet. I’m certain of it.

#24 Patrick O'Connor
August/13/2009
@ 3:27 pm

Sighhhhhh……….

#25 Rick Stromoski
August/13/2009
@ 4:38 pm

Mike…you’re not admitting to being a right wing bloviator are you?

#26 Pat Bagley
August/13/2009
@ 5:38 pm

Mike,

Ah! But you’re not on talk radio! And I never said we are losing our jobs because of the (narrow) personal appeal of certain on-air personalities. We’re really being killed by Craig’s List, truth be told.

#27 Jeff Vella
August/13/2009
@ 6:05 pm

Did ya’ ever see the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote straps a rocket onto his back, knowing damn well it’s going to end in disaster? Yeah, that’s exactly what the newspapers are doing every time they let go of an Editorial Cartoonist, meanwhile the cartoonist happily lands on his feet and in Matt’s own words, “moves onto much bigger, and far better things.â?

Good luck Matt, I can hardly wait to see your next project.

#28 Ronnie Peterson
August/13/2009
@ 9:40 pm

You really need only one political cartoonist to fill that big hole on all the editorial pages. Get rid the award-winning expensive ones and then just copy and paste and forward the work of one less recognized and hungrier artist to everyone. And you might even be able to get sponsors to pay the bill. Bottomline problems solved.

#29 Stacy Curtis
August/13/2009
@ 11:51 pm

Don’t worry, syndicated editorial cartoons are cheaper than a staff cartoonist. There is a long line of cartoonists willing to fill their pockets with nickels and pennies, so that hole can be filled.

Editorial cartoonists have outsourced themselves.

#30 Henry Clausner
August/14/2009
@ 8:04 am

::::shaking my head-tisk,tisk,tisk….

#31 Jeff Darcy
August/14/2009
@ 12:21 pm

He had it coming- all he did is win a Pulitzer for his paper and put it on the map.
J.P.- this isn’t an industry committing suicide- it’s more like mass murder/suicide. I’ve yet to see a Publisher or Editor fire themselves for driving an industry off the cliff.
Mike Peterson makes a good point. Gannett flagship USA Today does seem to appreciate cartoons with the play it gives them in it’s weekend round-up and rotating it’s daily cartoon spot- So you would have thought they would have had another option for its valuable assets ,like with what happened with David Horsey.
I remember seeing Matt’s work when he was first starting out in Jack Anderson’s National Review of Cartoons and another NY cartoon paper-watching it evolve into his one-of -a-kind award winning style- Can’t wait to see his next evolution .
Hang in there Matt!

#32 Guy Gilchrist
August/15/2009
@ 8:43 am

A few years ago, I had a kid I was mentoring, a brilliant high school cartoonist from Baltimore. I mentored this boy for a year. It was his “prize” for winning an international Cartooning Contest,and toward the end of his year of coaching, he came to Connecticut to spend the weekend.That Saturday I drove him to a lunch with Matt. Matt was his idol. I didn’t know Matt, he didn’t have to do this, but he did. He was generous, honest, and could not have made a better impression on my student, or on me. Matt is one of the good guys. Besides all the amazing writing and drawing ..a real good guy.
His statement on his facebook really is telling. Yeah. Tough times. Bad break. Ok….now…on to today. Let’s have at it.

#33 Ted Dawson
August/16/2009
@ 7:47 pm

Does anybody keep track of whether the newspapers that fired their cartoonists are now using syndicated editorial cartoons, freelancers or no cartoons at all?

#34 Ted Rall
August/17/2009
@ 8:23 am

The AAEC tracks staff job listings. It’s a safe bet that the vast majority of newspaper that lay off their staff cartoonists soon come to regret it in the form of reduced readers for their opinion pages. They usually fill the gap with syndicated and/or freelance material, but it’s hard to find high-quality local talent and syndicated material doesn’t include the local and state issue-centered work that attracts readers.

The current wave of layoffs is depressing, but it won’t last. Much of this is simply the usual corporate pattern of firing people in their 50s so they don’t have to pay them retirement.

In 10 or 15 years, there will be more staff cartoonists than there were 10 or 15 years ago.

#35 Mike Lester
August/17/2009
@ 11:07 am

I want to speak to the oft accepted idea that “local and state issue-centered work that attracts readers” is the way to keep or get an editorial cartoon job. Doesn’t make sense and hasn’t proven to be an anti-dope* for being shown the door. Readers want a local cartoonist who’s good at what he’s supposed to do and signs his name w/ their local papers name right behind his. I don’t really think it’s any more complicated than that.

(not a typo)

#36 Henry Clausner
August/17/2009
@ 2:04 pm

….and then Reader’s Digest files chapter 11….

#37 Brian Duffy
August/24/2009
@ 5:02 am

As the previous victim of a Gannettoid purge, I know how Matt probably feels. I also know from personal experience that there is a wonderful life away from that Gulag.
Gannett, along with many of these other large newspaper chains will eventually bleed out from self-inflicted wound. their debt load cannot be lightened by jettisoning talent. The day of reckoning is coming. Unfortunately many more incredible people will be tossed overboard before the company breaks up and sinks below the waves.

Don’t believe that all newspapers are in such dire straits, I work with many smaller papers in Iowa that are family owned and they are doing great. But let this be a warning to all other Gannett cartoonists out there; in the last seven months they have dumped the last front page cartoonist and now a Pulitzer winner. They are not done.

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