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Here’s some big news out of Iowa regarding big news in Iowa: The Des Moines Register is laying off 41 employees due to its parent company’s worsening financial condition. Among the sacrifices is daily editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy, who has been with the DMR since 1983.

I’m speechless. Duffy was the DMR. Severing ties with Duffy extinguishes yet another tradition:

The Register had claimed to be the only newspaper in the United States with an editorial cartoon on the front page. The tradition extended back to at least the early 20th century, according to Register archives.

How could this happen? Well, it’s simple economics. According to the DMR’s own article regarding the lay-offs, Gannett, which also owns the Iowa City Press-Citizen, saw its third-quarter earnings drop 33 percent and has taken out the trimming shears. In October the company said it would cut 10 percent of its total staff, and to do so I know they immediately targeted the most senior, important, and highest non-administrative or corporate earners. It’s an of-used cost-cutting measure Gannett has used to devastate uniquely regional newspapers like the DMR; they release the most experienced and highest paid staff members and replace them with greenhorns straight from college. Duffy, no doubt, represented Gannett’s ideal collateral.

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Like the other 40 sacrifices, Duffy will receive 26-weeks worth of severance pay and benefits. His cartoons, and the tradition he continued, will be missed.

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