Newspaper Lays Off Designer Behind “Dying Newsroom”


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What does it say about the state of the newspaper industry if it can’t even chronicle its own demise?

That’s the question prompted by this sad piece of news from Editor & Publisher today: Martin Gee, the longtime designer and illustrator who was behind Mother Jones‘ recent online photo essay, The Dying Newsroom, has been laid off from his job at the San Jose Mercury News. E&P quotes the Mercury News‘ publisher’s explanation for this most recent round of layoffs: “We have had a very challenging 2008.”

Gee’s photos document the cumulative effect of layoffs in which the paper lost close to half its staff. They are surprisingly touching photos of ordinary office gear, receiverless phones, and the like, left behind by hastily departing colleagues. Gee wrote with one of the images: “I still believe in this place. I grew up with this paper, and this is the paper I always wanted to be at.”

See the photo essay here.

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  • Justin Elliott is a ProPublica reporter covering politics and government accountability.