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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 12:23 pm

Chris Britt laid off

Chris Britt, editorial cartoonist for the State Journal-Register, has been fired.

Britt was let go this morning.

“I was just informed,” Britt said.

Britt, who began his career as an editorial cartoonist in 1990 and joined the State Journal-Register staff nine years later, said he wasn’t sure whether he was given a reason for his firing.

“They may have – I was just in a little bit of a daze,” Britt said. “Economic re-structuring, or something like that.”

The newspaper last week informed copy editors that their jobs would be eliminated this summer, with a net loss of ten full-time positions. Two days later, the newspaper began firing other people, with at least eleven people laid off  in various departments, sources have told Illinois Times. The newspaper shut down its press last year, moving printing to Peoria with a loss of more than 50 jobs in Springfield.

Newsroom cuts have been deep. According to a staff listing obtained by Illinois Times, the newsroom had 81 editorial employees in 2007, including workers who prepared such specialty publications as Springfield’s Own magazine. With Britt’s departure, that number now stands at 55, according to a current staff list, and that number will dip to 45 this summer when the paper shifts copy editing duties to a centralized desk that will edit copy and write headlines for newspapers owned by GateHouse Media, the State Journal-Register’s corporate parent.

GateHouse Media is in financial difficulty and owes more than $1 billion to creditors, with a balloon payment due in 2014. Stock that sold for $20 a share in 2006 was worth just 18 cents two years later, when the company was de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has sold for as little as three cents a share during the past year and was selling for seven cents today.

Walt Lafferty, publisher of the State Journal-Register, could not be reached for comment.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com
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