I've written here about quite a few cartoonists who have lost their jobs to newspaper cutbacks - but this is the first time I can remember that I've written about a cartoonist losing his job because his newspaper shut down. My buddy, star Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder, finds himself out of a job as his newspaper bites the dust. I put up a special section of Michael's great work and asked him to give me a few comments below. E-mail Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org and see his best cartoons here.
It is with a sad heart that the Daily News (Halifax) folded and then was replaced by a free newspaper called the Metro. The Metro does not run editorial cartoons. In fact there is no opinion what-so-ever in Halifax's free Daily. So when the Daily News folded, so did my job as editorial cartoonist.
It was done quickly and quietly.
On Monday, Feb 10, 2008, we came into work like we do every Monday morning. Chatted, set up our computers for the day's work, read Monday's newspaper and a mass email came through telling us there was a meeting at 10:00am. The strange thing was it was 10:15am. Management always gave us at least a few hours notice before scheduling a meeting.
About a minute after the email came through, management came through herding people to the meeting area. Our marketing director told somebody in the middle of a phone interview to hang up the phone and come to the meeting. I had never seen somebody interrupt a phone interview before so it seemed quite urgent.
When we were in place there was a hushed silence as more people came gathered. For a long time there had been rumours that the whole office was moving from its downtown Halifax location to save money. Thinking this was that announcement, I asked, " Are we moving?" to the senior person beside me loud enough for everybody near us to hear. When I got no reply, I said jokingly, is the Daily News folding? Still I got nothing. My heart sank.
About a minute later Marc-Noel Ouellette, senior vice-president of the Transcontinental's newspaper group told us as of today the Halifax Daily News has folded. There will be no newspaper the next day. He proceeded to tell us that a new free daily called the metro would take its place. Some people would find employment with the news paper but the vast majority would not.
That was it. It was like a hurricane came in and destroyed our home.
I worked at the Daily News for seven and a half years. It was a good environment to draw editorial cartoons. Editors let me do my work and wanted me to cause a stir each day. They encouraged hard hitting, opinionated work. A rarity at today's newspapers.
I did land on my feet quickly. I've had calls from a number of news sources asking me about my cartoons, mostly local publications outside Halifax. And as much as I feel lucky, I can't help but mourn the loss of what was one of the best work environments for an editorial cartoonist in North America.
-Michael de Adder