The number of political cartoonists, by one estimate, has dwindled to about 85 fulltime people. Newspapers, as usual, seem bent on cutting costs rather than delivering quality, so the local cartoonist is let go, encouraged to leave or not replaced when he or she does leave. Instead of encouraging this kind of journalism by growing their own local cartoonists, newspapers have generally viewed it as just another expense that can be eliminated.
It is yet another example of newspaper short-sightedness. Still, the cartooning goes on among a determined few — even those who don’t have fulltime jobs.
Mark Glaser, in a recent article posted on the Online Journalism Review, says the web may be cartoonists some hope:
These are the worst of times and the best of times for editorial cartoonists. Newspapers have been cutting full-time editorial cartoonist jobs down to the bone, and prices paid in syndication seem to drop by the minute. But the Web has brought new business opportunities for popular cartoonists, with global distribution and the chance for self-syndication.
Let’s hope Glaser is right. Better yet, let’s hope that news organizations will come to their senses and let readers enjoy a good laugh or get provoked by a good jab at their favorite politician.
(Posted March 2, 2005)
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