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NOT Supporting Your Local Cartoonist

 

The news of The (Racine) Journal Times and the Kenosha News realigning their funny pages to present the same comics in both papers brings forth a disturbing trend in the new age of newspaper consolidation.

In February 2019 Lee Enterprises, the fourth largest newspaper group in the U. S.,
took ownership of the Kenosha News:

The Kenosha News will be under new ownership starting Friday.

Lee Enterprises, which also owns the Racine Journal Times, has purchased the print and digital assets of the Kenosha News and the Lake Geneva Regional News from United Communications Corp.

The Kenosha News publishes seven days a week and has an average daily print circulation of about 20,000. The Lake Geneva Regional News publishes weekly. The sale is expected to close on Thursday.

 

Before February was over Kenosha News and the Racine Journal Times, next door neighbors, had produced a comics survey to gauge the most popular comics of both papers.

I see several problems with this tactic; not the least of which is circulation.
If two neighboring newspapers have the exact same features why should I buy both papers?
If they have different content I might get both local papers, at least occasionally.

Anyway this post concerns another issue: supporting your local cartoonist.

 

The realignment of The News and The Journal Times resulted in The Kenosha News dropping The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee. That was just one of several comics dropped by one or the other paper. What makes this out of the ordinary is that Edison Lee creator John Hambrock and Anne Morse-Hambrock are Kenosha residents and Kenosha News subscribers!

When The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee began in 2006 the strip’s debut ran in the then locally owned News; now, as part of a large publishing group whose corporate offices are in another state, local talent is invisible.

As John explains on Facebook:

After 13 years, Edison will no longer be appearing in the Kenosha News. If you miss him already and want to see him back, drop executive editor Bob Heisse a note at bheisse@kenoshanews.com and tell him so. Ironically, Edison is nominated for the National Cartoonists Society’s 2019 comic strip of the year award. The winner will be announced on May 18th in Huntington Beach, CA. I want to thank all of you for your generous support over the years. Edison is continuing to grow in new markets, so hopefully he’ll be sticking around for a while.

From Anne:

Well folks, today The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee was missing from the Sunday Kenosha News for the first time since its launch in 2006.

There have been many times in the last 3 months that I have considered cancelling my subscription anyway and this is the last straw.

Goodbye Kenosha News.

Who could blame them for canceling their subscription?

 

Others also told tales of local creators being ignored:

 

 

 

 

Also note that Willy ‘n’ Ethel by Joe Martin was also cancelled by the Kenosha News.
Joe lives about 20 miles west in Lake Geneva.

 

It’s sad. There was a time, not too long ago, when cartoonists and other creators of newspaper content could count on their hometown paper carrying their material.

 

 

 

 

Community Comments

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#1 Darryl Heine
May/6/2019
@ 10:01 pm

I wonder if the Janesville Gazette or Milwaukee Journal or Madison Wisconsin State Journal-Register have interest in Mr. Boffo, Willy ‘n Ethel, Cats with Hands, and/or Edison Lee?

#2 Paul Berge
May/7/2019
@ 6:36 am

A cartoonist is without honor in his/her own homeland.

I can’t speak for the Janesville Gazette, but none of the local cartoons Darryl lists are in the Gannett-clone Journal-Sentinel.

#3 Anne Hambrock
May/13/2019
@ 10:11 am

As of last Friday the Edison comic strip was returned to the Kenosha News – this was DIRECTLY the result of all your feedback for which John and I are extremely grateful.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the feature is not on the comics page but in another part of the newspaper with the crossword and other puzzles. This is now also where it will be on Sundays so the strip will be 100 percent in black and white for Kenosha readers from now on.

I am happy to see that the editors were open to feedback and I feel that they did the best they could in the current climate of corporate ownership of the paper. This is all about cutting print costs and being able to “gang print” the comics for both Racine and Kenosha. I believe very strongly in the importance of local newspapers and their role in the community they serve – especially in terms of reporting on the doings at city hall – so I WANT the Kenosha News to succeed and understand the need to cut costs to survive. But I do think this whole thing was not handled as well as it could have been and there were some other options.

#4 Paul Berge
May/14/2019
@ 6:30 am

For anyone who’s interested, I’ve posted a photo of page 5D of the Kenosha News and the front page of Sunday’s Keno-News-Journal-Times comic section here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eagleburp/47836167211/in/dateposted/

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