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Clay Bennett closes a busy year as AAEC President

E&P has a great story on Clay Bennett’s year as president of the AAEC (whose term ends this tomorrow).  Some of the things I know he had to deal with was the number of cartoonists that lost their jobs or took buyouts: Michael Ramirez, Kevin ‘Kal’ Kallaugher, Stacy Curtis, Tim Menees, David Simpson, and Larry Wright each walked out the door of their respective newspapers – only Michael has regained a staff cartoonist position.

The tumultuous newspaper industry inspired December’s Black Ink Monday which sent thousands of emails to the Tribune Co.

One of the behind the scenes stuff I missed was why did Nick Anderson took the lead on representing the AAEC during the Muhammad cartoon controversy.

Then the Danish cartoon controversy exploded. While Bennett was a very visible AAEC spokesperson on other issues, he kept a low public profile on the Muhammad drawings to avoid any chance of endangering kidnapped Monitor colleague Jill Carroll. Rob Rogers and AAEC Vice President Nick Anderson, the Houston Chronicle/Washington Post Writers Group cartoonist who’ll succeed Rogers as President-elect this Friday, did most of the organization’s talking, though Bennett helped behind the scenes. In early February, the AAEC issued a statement supporting freedom of expression for cartoonists while also noting that Islamic anger over the Danish drawings was understandable — but violence was not.

Clay’s parting letter to the AAEC can be found on their web site:

My decision to accept responsibility, both personally and professionally, has been profoundly gratifying for me. Through these choices, Iâ??ve discovered that depending on others, and having others depend on me, are good things. In fact, theyâ??re what life is all about. Like my life as a parent, my year as AAEC president may have come with a ton of anxiety, but not an ounce of regret.

Thanks Clay.

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