After more than 18 years as art and architecture critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Louise Schumacher is leaving her job at the newspaper. Schumacher said in a Facebook post that her position has been eliminated, and she is taking a buyout. “Another art critic out of a job,” she wrote on Twitter. “Most unsurprising news ever. . . . It was my dream job. Loved every damn minute. Thank you artists.”
Schumacher’s exit leaves Milwaukee without a full-time newspaper art critic, which is also the case in many cities across the United States—the result of a long string of layoffs and departures over the years, as the news industry has struggled to compete in a world reshaped by the internet.
Reached by email, Schumacher declined to comment, citing a policy of the media company Gannett, which owns the Journal Sentinel, that prohibits those taking buyouts from speaking to the press. It’s been reported that Gannett laid off as many as 400 employees this week.
“Many regional dailies gave up their art and architecture critics years ago, and I’m grateful that my newspaper made space for what I do longer than most,” Schumacher said in her Facebook post. “Our local newspaper is doing essential work and is in a fight for its very existence. For those who remain in the newsroom, you have my respect and gratitude. I will continue to champion and give meaningful attention to your good work. For the culture makers, whose ‘most critical role,’ according to JFK, is that of doing justice, I will continue to champion your important work, too.”
A 2017 Arts & Culture Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Schumacher is currently working on a film about art critics.