Bob Keefer wrote about art and artists for most of the 30 years he worked for The Register-Guard. He retired in 2013 to concentrate on his photography, but continued to freelance arts stories for the R-G. On April 3, a couple days after rounding up support for a well-wishing for Serena Markstrom Nugent after she was fired from the paper, Keefer was informed in a one-sentence email: “We won’t be needing your freelance services anymore.”
Markstrom Nugent, who was fired for checking her email while on pregnancy disability, was not allowed by R-G management to come in and clean out her desk, so employees past and present as well as members of the community were invited to celebrate her and her baby. Keefer sent out this message through a public post on his Facebook page on March 27:
“Arts world people: As some of you may know, my former colleague and now very pregnant Serena Markstrom Nugent, the pop music writer for many years, has just been fired from the Register-Guard — while on medical disability leave! — after committing the sin of checking her work email from home. Friends are going to assemble in front of the newspaper at 3:30 p.m. today to wish her well as she arrives to clean out her desk. Y’all come!”
Today Keefer posted:
“Arts world friends,
I’ve been fired by the Register-Guard. Since I retired from full-time work in July, I’ve been contributing a couple art reviews to the Arts section each month as a freelancer. But according to a one-line email I just received, “We won’t be needing your freelance services anymore.”
There was no explanation, but this follows closely on my public support of former colleague Serena Markstrom Nugent, who was fired by the paper last month, while on medical leave, after working there 13 years. See today’s Eugene Weekly for details on that story.
Let’s just say I’m not devastated. Of course I’ll miss the opportunity to review more art shows around town, but it’s time to concentrate on my photography and writing projects, as well as working with Wordcrafters writing conference and Lane Arts Council.
See you on the Art Walk!
The R-G seems determined to cut off its nose to spite its face — Keefer and Markstrom Nugent have been strong and vibrant supporters of the arts and music community. Nobody wants to see a locally owned daily news source go under. Anyone have any advice for the R-G?