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November 11, 2010

Matt Davies Laid Off By Gannett Paper


Michael Cavna offers a stellar write-up on a pair of post-election editorial cartoon firings, including the news that hit the affected cartoonist's Facebook blog yesterday and then crackled through watchful blogs that Matt Davies of the Journal News, a community super-paper that serves the Lower Hudson Valley region in New York and is owned by Gannett, was let go. Davies is one of the anchor talents right now in classic North American editorial cartooning: a rock-solid, amusing writer and an expressive artist who won the 2004 Pulitzer for a series of cartoons including the above effort. Davies also won the Herblock prize that year, and was the AAEC president in 2004-2005.

imageCavna rightly pulls out that this seems to be part of an effort to trim positions across the company's various holdings. Cavna also discusses the idea that cartoonists like Davies are let go after elections because their work is too important to a newspaper's election coverage to see them fired beforehand or during. That's a lovely idea, but while I like Davies cartoons generally -- this one's very funny -- his election-period cartoons seem on a first glance more like value-added, broad commentary than work that got right down there and mixed in with the rest of the coverage and was particularly vital in that way. That New York offered one of the few nationally-recognized clownish races in its governorship contest probably didn't provide a lot of points of purchase for ruthless, attentive cartooning of a type that can be seen as additional journalistic coverage. That's not a criticism of Davies, because I'd want my editorial cartoonist working the same way, just a note that I don't find the assertion of coverage hypocrisies that compelling an argument in his case. In fact, Davies' light touch is something that seems to me would be a significant asset in what is likely to be a contentious next two years politically; I think they'll miss him more then than they would have for the last few months if he had been let go in July.

Davies is distributed by Tribune Media Services and on Daryl Cagle's site; his work was made available to other Gannett papers through an in-company syndication service. You can read reaction from Daily Cartoonist readers here. You can look at recent Davies cartoons through a devote newspaper blog here. I wish this talented cartoonist luck in finding his version 2.0.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

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