Dave Granlund laid off from MetroWest Daily News

After 31 years of service, MetroWest Daily News editorial cartoonist Dave Granlund was laid off yesterday due to the paper’s cost-cutting measures.

He tells Jessica Heslam, of the Boston Herald:

“I was let go because of the money aspect of it,” Granlund told me. “This came out of left field. This was unexpected.”

Until today, Granlund was one of 85 cartoonists nationwide working full-time for a newspaper.

“We had gone through a series of other cuts a number of weeks ago. We thought the dust had settled,” he said.

The Globe reported in February that GateHouse was cutting 60 positions at its Massachusetts publications. That included 35 layoffs and not filling another 25 vacant positions.

As to his plans now.

“Somewhere out there, there’s someone that can see the usefullness for having a cartoonist, especially in these dire times – it’s always nice to have a little levity to spread around,” he said.

13 thoughts on “Dave Granlund laid off from MetroWest Daily News

  1. Welcome to the club, Dave. I’d say “Have a seat,” but it’s standing-room only.

    There is life after a lay-off.
    Good luck in landing a new job.


  2. Yep… good thing there are all those staff cartoonists whose work is sold cheap in syndication to fill the void that was once a job for someone.

  3. You can’t stop syndication, Wiley.

    No cartoonist is going to want to take a paycut, even if it means one of their fellow cartoonists get laid-off.

    In the same vein, no syndicate would be willing to refuse cartoons to a newspaper who laid-off a staff cartoonist,,,,even if that cartoonist’s work was distributed by that syndicate.

    All syndicates should refuse cartoons to any newspaper who cuts a staff cartoonist, or any newspaper (100,000 circulation or more) who does not employ a staff cartoonist. But is that going to happen? No. Why? Money.

    Besides, even if syndicates did, some cartoonists who were not syndicated would only see that situation as an opportunity.

    In all eyes, it’s better to be greedy than to save the profession.

    On the newspaper side of things, why lay-off your ONE staff cartoonist? If you have multiple sports columnists/copyeditors/features reporters/IT workers/management positions, etc., isn’t it better to lay-off any of those people rather than eliminate your ONE cartoonist?

    Until everyone views the larger picture, the future is hopeless for the profession.

  4. I’m not talking about stopping syndication, Stacy. It’s CHEAP syndication as well as staff cartoonists being in syndication.
    If one wants to be an editorial cartoonist in syndication, then they should do just that, as Ann Telnaes, Ted Rall and Pat Oliphant do. If one is working for a newspaper, their work should be exclusive to that paper.

    More importantly, it’s the extraordinarily low price of editorial cartoons in syndication that needs to change. The fees need to be raised to a much higher level, making the option of replacing a staff cartoonist with syndicated work less of a viable option. In addition, it would make working solely in syndication more of an option for cartoonists, not needing a staff job.

    As it is right now, we have cartoonists with steady jobs (unintentionally) taking the jobs of their fellow cartoonists through the syndication of their work. This is a practice that needs to change, otherwise, there will only be about 5 working editorial cartoonists in the very near future.

    But this is not to overlook your point about priorities. Why is having a cartoonist on staff is seen as being less important than, say, a sports columnist?

  5. Back to the real matter at hand: Dave, if you see this, so sorry to hear about this callous decision… you gave them decades of excellent work. Best wishes for landing on your feet soon.

  6. The following is not a comment about Dave, whose work I haven’t seen.

    Wiley asks: “Why is having a cartoonist on staff is seen as being less important than, say, a sports columnist?”

    It’s the $64,000 question. I was interviewed for a staff position at the Harrisburg Patriot-News during the 1990s, when the economy was much better than today. The chance to work in Pennsylvania’s state capital was one I lusted for; I would have loved to have covered the state legislature as well as issues relevant to central PA. From a quality of life perspective, the town is beautiful and fun and affordable.

    In the end, however, they decided to hire an additional sports writer instead. I asked why. They replied that the benefit of a sports writer was obvious to the publisher–more writing, especially about local sports. They couldn’t see how a cartoonist would build circulation.

    Of course, a great cartoonist is a circulation builder. We need to explain how and why.

  7. First and like Ted, condolences to Dave. 31 freakin’ years? did they at least kiss you first?
    And I don’t mean to use your misfortune to weight in but…

    I’ve got that little job Ted didn’t get but in a different town. My publisher sees the value in having a visual lampooning of local pratfalls and pols and big shots at least as much as a sportswriter. He also digs the national notoriety. He might be more vain than me and that’s saying something.

    Am I a circ. builder? Hard to say in these econ. times and I could find myself in Dave’s position tomorrow but that’s true -or should be (f*ck unions) for anybody. I know I’m not a circ. loser. We get mucho mail and phone calls and even personal visits (those are interesting to say the least) w/ something to say (mostly neg.) about my cartoon(s) and somehow that translates into a job. More people should try it.

    Roger Miller wrote a song about guys like me, “King of Kansas City” (Look it up. It’s a classic.)

  8. Dave: If you’re out there, I’m so sorry to hear about the cut. Having been through it myself (though with only a mere 20 years put to the wheel), I know how heartily it sucks.

    Ted: There’s not a town on Earth more in need of a political cartoonist than Harrisburg. Unfortunately, sports nuts (who tend to comprise only a fraction of all newspaper readers) tend to whine loudly when their kids’ prep water volleyball team isn’t getting enough ink. Publishers, in turn, oil the squeakiest wheel.

    Mike: Omaha’s looking for a cartoonist?

    Yodle-leedle-ladee, y’oughta see my car

  9. As the sole veteran of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, I can attest to both their dire need for a staff cartoonist and their eternal stubbornness in refusing to hire one.

    Let’s put it this way: Ted Rall was once able to talk his way out of being shot by the Taliban, and yet he still couldn’t talk his way into that office. That should tell you all you need to know…

  10. I’ve been a big fan of Dave’s work for years and I’ll say this – It’s the readers of the MetroWest Daily News that will lose out with the lay-off. With 31 years of service to the same paper, I’m sure Dave will not only land on his feet, but he’ll probably hit the ground running.

    And for those who haven’t seen Dave work – http://www.davegranlund.com/cartoons

  11. The Editorial page of the MWDN was my primary reason to open that paper. Dave Granlund’s cartoons are fabulous. Like the man said, drill a hole in the bottom of the boat to let the water out. I know you’ve been down this path at least once, and wiser heads prevailed – perhaps lightning will strike twice.

    Good luck to you. Those who made this stupid decision, “You are like a candle, the better part burnt out.”

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