Today on his blog, Albany Times-Union cartoonist John de Rosier filed his final cartoon for the paper. de Rosier was notified earlier this week that he was being laid off due to budget cuts, along with full-time photographer Phil Kamrass. At least the paper let him go out in style, unlike Clay Jones, whose final cartoon was killed by his editor at the Free Lance Star.
Tim O’Brien, the president of the Albany Newspaper Guild, has a nice blog post up about the lost of de Rosier’s cartooning job at the Times-Union, and its larger implications to a newspaper that just earned a Newspaper of Distinction Award from the Associated Press:
A distinctive art form is being steadily destroyed by people who look purely at revenue. It’s hard to say that an editorial cartoonist generates a certain amount of income for the newspaper, just as it is hard to say how much any single reporter or photographer does. But eliminating the cartoonist sends a message to readers: We are taking away something you value, something that makes your newspaper distinctive, something you cannot get anywhere else. We value your newspaper less, and you should too.
It’s a terrible message, and it comes at a price that may not be immediately apparent but will cost newspapers dearly in the long run.
“We know staff cuts can hurt our product,” wrote Times Union editor Rex Smith in an email to employees, “but we also know that we’re working smarter and more efficiently than we ever have before, and we recognize the promise of journalism in the digital age.
It’s a shame Smith doesn’t recognize the importance and promise political cartoons can offer to newspapers online in the digital age.