GateHouse Media, a chain that owns some 156 newspapers, continued its apparent quest to run them all into the ground. Just before Memorial Day weekend, GateHouse announced the purging of reporters and personnel at two dozen or more papers across the country, including laying off what may be the last three staff cartoonists on their payroll: Nate Beeler at the Columbus Dispatch, Rick McKee at the Augusta Chronicle, and Mark Streeter at the Savannah Morning News.
Beeler and McKee posted the news on social media Thursday evening, with word of Streeter's dismissal surfacing later.
This was the second round of cuts at the chain this year, but was greater in depth and scale. Poynter picked up on the story that the GateHouse CEO was oblivious to the number of people being cut, or that many of them were high-profile personalities popular with readers. [Full disclosure: my cousin, Joe Blundo, an award-winning columnist at the Dispatch, was one of the many journalists who was handed a pink slip —JP]
While the news of McKee and Streeter's layoff was not unexpected — both their positions were on the chopping block 18 months ago, and temporarily saved by their editors — the axing of Beeler came as a surprise. (No word yet on how this might impact the AAEC+CXC convention, which is being held in Columbus, Sept. 26-29. Beeler is a co-host of the gathering, and the Dispatch was one of several of our partners.)