For the first time in 14 years, Free Lance-Star readers won't see daily cartoons from Clay Jones, who announced on his blog today that his last day is Friday.
The Free Lance-Star is completing its third round of layoffs and/or hour cuts since 2008. Managing Editor Phil Jenkins said he did not have the authority to say how many employees were let go this week. Publisher Nick Cadwallender is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Recently, cartoonists at larger newspapers across the country have been laid off, including cartoonists at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, LA. Poynter.org reported that a cartoonist at the The Philadelphia Inquirer took a buyout.
The award-winning cartoonist has had his work published in major newspapers across the country, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. Jones often joked on his blog about the calls he'd get from angry readers or the hate mail he'd receive each week about his cartoons. He never shied away from making fun of politicians, presidents or athletes, leaving sharp commentary under many of these cartoons that he posted on his newspaper blog.
"I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of the newsroom, election night pizza, breaking news, racing to the newsroom at midnight on a Sunday to cover the death of Osama bin Laden, receiving angry phone calls from readers, physical threats from a fireman, and that exasperated look on my editor’s face every time I showed him a cartoon he didn’t like," Jones wrote on his blog.
Jones will be freelancing two cartoons a week to the Free Lance-Star and he will still be syndicating his cartoons through Creators Syndicate, according to his blog post. He is also creating a new website to host his cartoons and asked that people follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Jones wrote in his blog that he left his job at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1998 when the Free Lance-Star gave him a shot.
"It’s been a great ride. I’ll forever be in the FLS family and because of social networks we’ll always stay in touch," he wrote.
"Most of all, I want to thank you," Jones wrote in his blog to his readers. "If I never got reactions from you I would have felt like I was spinning my wheels and not doing my job."
Jones said he is not sure what his next job will be and he is toying with several ideas. He also sings and plays guitar for a band.
"I can try something new and maybe even at a new location," he said. "Yes, I’m thinking about leaving Virginia despite the fact over the past 14 years I’ve gained more friends here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived."
To read all of Jones' blog, visit Fredericksburg.com.
Clay Jones on Twitter: twitter.com/claytoonz
Clay Jones on Facebook: facebook.com/clayjones
The writer of this article is a former Free Lance-Star employee who left the company in 2010.