Daryl Cagle opines on how the NY Times (and others) treat editorial cartoonists

Daryl Cagle, editorial cartoonist for MSN.com, wrote a column on a practice used by the New York Times (and other publications) of removing the cartoonists’ names and publication of record when they reprint the cartoon. Most times they credit the cartoonist and his/her employing newspaper, but the New York Times, at least when dealing with Daryl, didn’t cite his employment with MSN.com. Daryl opines that it is because they didn’t want to give publicity to a competing news organization.

That’s not the only egregious practice of the Times. They also have a policy of only paying for right to print the cartoon if you send them an invoice. Here’s how Daryl explains it:

A number of cartoonists e-mailed me this week with the same question, “Hey, Daryl, I saw your cartoon in the Times, how do I get my own cartoons in the Times?” I regret that the reality behind the big-time political cartooning business is a little disappointing. Here’s how it works: dozens of cartoonists around the world e-mail their cartoons to the Times and other “pay-per-use” newspapers who accept unsolicited submissions. It is the same thing with USA Today, send it in and if they run it, they pay $50 – but the Times is a little different. Instead of just paying $50, the Times doesn’t pay unless the cartoonist notices that they ran the cartoon and sends them an invoice. The Times doesn’t tell the cartoonist that they ran the cartoon and if they don’t receive an invoice, the Times saves the $50.

Suppose The New York Times dealt with McDonalds the same way they deal with cartoonists. The Times would say:

“Hey, McDonalds, I want you to deliver a hamburger to me every day; I may choose to eat it, and I may not. If I choose to eat the burger, I will pay you for it. If I don’t eat the burger, I won’t pay you. I’m not going to tell you if I eat a burger or not. If you want to get paid, you’ll have to see me eating the burger and then send me a bill, and the bill must tell me when you saw me eating the burger. I understand that you’ll have to watch me all the time to see if I’m eating one of your burgers, but that shouldn’t be a problem, because I’m very big and very interesting, and I expect you to be watching me all the time anyway. If you’re lucky, I might eat one or two of your burgers every year.”

There are about one thousand aspiring cartoonists for every one who actually makes a living as a professional editorial cartoonist. I’m sure that if the “wanna-be” cartoonists would actually look inside the editorial-cartoon-burger, to see how it is made, it would give them a belly ache – a $50, New York Times-sized belly ache.

It looks from Daryl’s blog that the NY Times has since issued a correction to give MSN.com and his syndicate credit for the published cartoon.