Could Philadelphia lose two Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists in a month?
The Inquirer’s Tony Auth has already taken the employee buyout offered by Philadelphia Media Network, which owns both Philly papers and Philly.com.
Many assumed that would mean Signe Wilkinson, the veteran cartoonist for the Daily News would now draw for both papers, as many functions of the two are being combined.
But I’m told by multiple and reliable sources at the Daily News that Wilkinson has been told that if not enough people take voluntary buyouts, her job is targeted for elimination.
I contacted Wilkinson, who responded with this email:
“You will have to check with the company about whether they plan to have a political cartoonist working for either paper as they have not shared that information with me. In my discussions with various people in management, they have all said they value my work and understand the importance of having a local staff cartoonist.”
Company spokesman Mark Block declined comment.
I emailed Daily News editor Larry Platt, who’s away. He responded with this statement: “Without going into personnel matters, I can say there are many staffers who are vulnerable and I’ve had candid conversations with all of them, including Signe. Nothing has been decided yet because we’re waiting to see how the buy-out process plays out.”
Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski said nothing has been decided yet about who might replace Auth, or whether the paper will have its own editorial cartoonist.
In case you missed it yesterday, Auth will be working with us at Newsworks as a digital cartoonist in residence.
Meanwhile, there are developments in the unfolding process of the sale of Philadelphia Media Holdings. The Inquirer’s Andrew Maykuth reports that the company has entered into exclusive negotiations with the so-called “Rendell group,” only Rendell has been replaced as chairman by philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.
Read more here.