Rob Rogers, editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has passed the mantle of President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists to Nick Anderson, of the Houston Chronicle. He has penned an outgoing message to the AAEC members which recounts some of the highlights and challenges the organization has faced this last year and in the future.
One thing has become very clear to me in this, our fiftieth year. We can no longer ignore the truth. Newspaper journalism seems to be failing faster than Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards. Editorial cartoonists, unfortunately, are Britney’s poor children riding along without being strapped in properly. We are in for a tough future filled with abandonment issues, therapy and substance abuse (that pretty much describes our annual conventions.) But there is life after rehab and that’s what we need to focus on. How do we reinvent ourselves? How do we hold on to our fan base? How do we keep from getting fat and lazy and going on stage in an unflattering leather bikini?
The point is, drastic times call for drastic measures and that is how we, the members of the AAEC, need to think in order to survive as an organization. That is why I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of our panel called “Future Of Editorial Cartooning: A Town Hall Meeting.” In my pre-convention panic, I envisioned this turning into an episode of The Jerry Springer Show with the requisite free-for-all of cursing and airborne chairs. None of that happened. It was an incredibly cathartic experience with a healthy debate and positive suggestions. We ended up with some realistic goals to work on to help stave off job losses and raise the profile of editorial cartooning. Some of the concrete goals included conducting a survey to show that editorial cartoons are one of the most-read parts of newspapers, planning more public events like “Cartoonapalooza” to raise money for AAEC education and publicity efforts, and trying to increase the low prices many syndicates charge and many newspapers pay for editorial cartoons. Kudos to Paul Fell, Milt Priggee, Ted Rall and Clay Bennett (with encouragement from Wiley Miller) for organizing this event.