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Seattle Times to cut Eric Devericks position (UPDATED)

The Seattle Times has announced that they area cutting jobs – some 200 jobs and Eric Devericks, their editorial cartoonist, tells me that his job will most likely be one of them unless enough people voluntarily leave. If not, May 5th will be his last day. Eric has been with The Seattle Times for nearly six years.

He writes:

This is a very emotional time for me. I care for and believe deeply in my colleagues, The Seattle Times newspaper and craft of journalism as a whole. During my career at The Seattle Times I have worked and become friends with the most talented and highest caliber individuals I have ever known. This is a very hard time for everyone involved. More specifically, it is a very hard time for my young family and my only plans at this point are to do whatever I have to to take care of them.

He will know for sure about his status by the end of this week or early next.

UPDATE: Rob Tornoe has created a cartoon regarding the Times‘.

Community Comments

#1 Andertoons
@ 5:54 pm

Isn’t May 5th National Cartoonist Day? The irony!

#2 Ruth
@ 11:30 am

This paper has been in trouble for several years now and this is just another symptom. It’s trying to stay afloat–but it’s questionable how much longer it can last.

#3 Charles Brubaker
@ 12:17 pm

Seattle Times is notorious for laying off cartoonists. Their previous cartoonists, Brian Bassett and Chris Britt, were victims of it.

#4 Kevin Moore
@ 2:43 pm

The thing I don’t get about laying off cartoonists or getting rid of cartoons is that, historically speaking, the comics were the main draw for readers. It seems like an act of desperation to throw out those parts of the paper that retain readership. Admittedly, the WWW offers so much in terms of news, comics, and entertainment that it would be hard to argue to the average reader that they should keep reading the paper just to read the funnies. Most comic strips and editorial cartoons are not worth reading anyway.

#5 Stacy Curtis
@ 3:16 pm

I would argue against laying-off a staff cartoonist who produces local cartoons exclusively for that particular newspaper. Most newspapers are pushing local content these days and a local editorial cartoon does carry some weight. It causes readers to respond and come back to your Opinion page every day.

Even editorial cartoonists who ‘double dip’ by providing the occasional illustration for news stories are seen as a luxury.

Unfortunately, most editors would rather keep a pack of columnists around and lay-off their ONE staff cartoonist.

#6 Kevin Moore
@ 5:31 pm

You make a good point, Stacy. One of the casualties of highly concentrated media has been the loss of local relevance. I’m in a mid-sized media market with a lot of demand for local content. But there are so many small towns across the country that get served by giant media corporations with very generic formats. This is largely true of radio. But in cartooning, you see this more and more. As we’ve talked about elsewhere on this blog and other blogs, an editorial cartoonist are becoming less likely to be part of local newspaper, but more likely a part of a nationally syndicated package. Hence the generic quality of so many of those cartoons.

#7 Rob Tornoe
@ 8:35 pm

I agree completely Stacey. It’s strictly a cost issue. A newspaper doesn’t NEED and editorial cartoonist, b/c they can subscribe to a syndicate for pennies. But if they want good local content in their paper, and not just be a cookie cutter, local cartoonists can provide that edge.

Especially in a market where they’re competing with another big-name daily. Watering down your product is only going to convince people that they should be reading your competitor.

#8 Clay
@ 8:55 pm

The Times are giving their readers another reason they should read the Post-Intelligencer if they get rid of Eric.
Eric was always a friend but after our stupid little football wager we became even closer. That guy was going to jump into Puget Sound for me.
I’m going to send him an email to let him know I’m thinking about him.
He’s probably reading this so…hang in there, Eric!

#9 Stacy Curtis
@ 10:29 pm

Right, Clay.
Eric, if you are reading this, know that we are thinking about you.
Lots of us have been there and are proof you can bounce back.
Hang in there!

>>>Most comic strips and editorial cartoons are not worth reading anyway.

You don’t see the local cartoons challenging the city council, the water commission, the local police, etc. Those are the cartoons, whether they are Pulitzer material or not, that really deserve mentioning. Most of these cartoons are produced by cartoonists who do them for a flat fee and depending on the size of the newspaper (or not) that fee is probably not all that much. But the work they’re doing is important and quite honestly, probably better than any editorial cartoon drawn on airline safety and the economy lately.

I’m not downplaying the role of editorial cartoons on national topics, I’m just saying before you think most editorial cartoons are not worth reading, I’d suggest you look beyond Daryl Cagle’s site and the AAEC site and see what ruckus the local cartoonists are creating in weeklies and small daily newspapers.

Sometimes, it’s not just the cartoon itself, it’s the reaction from readers and local politicians that show you how important a local editorial cartoon can be to a newspaper. That’s what editors are failing to see.

#10 Steve Greenberg
@ 11:40 am

I hope Eric survives, but am not optimistic. A decade ago, the major
newspapers in Washington state had five editorial cartoonists: myself and
Dave Horsey on the Seattle P-I, Brian Basset (later Chris Britt) on the
Times, Steve Benson (later Chris Britt) in Tacoma and Milt Priggee in
Spokane. Looks like it could be just Horsey now.

The loss of local editorial cartooning is a disservice to the readers, and
removes a significant check upon state and local politicians… the
potential embarrassment of a stinging cartoon might keep a state legislator
slightly more on track than just written editorials that not everybody will
read could.

#11 Abell Smith
@ 2:18 pm

Anyone hear of any other positions getting the axe at the Times? Any photographers?

How ironic would it be if the P-I were the last man standing in Seattle, after all the talk of its demise over the years…

#12 Jeff Vella
@ 5:07 pm

“Sometimes, itâ??s not just the cartoon itself, itâ??s the reaction from readers and local politicians that show you how important a local editorial cartoon can be to a newspaper. Thatâ??s what editors are failing to see.”

I agree with Stacy. As much as I like viewing Cagleâ??s site, most of those artists draw comics on national headlines. And after a while some of the comics start looking similar to each other.

But a comic drawn on the blunders of the local politician, and state government is what brings in the response from the readers of that particular state. Sometimes the editors just don’t get it.

I work at a mid-sided newspaper in Connecticut, and I’m fortunate to have an editor who does get it. Sometimes he’ll actually request a comic dealing with a certain politician or state problem.

#13 Beth Cravens
@ 12:00 pm

It’s not the editors that you have to watch out for, it’s the greedy publishers out there who would push their own mother’s in front of a bus if they thought it would get them more advertising revenue.

#14 Dawn Douglass
@ 12:45 pm

I posted a cartoon today on inkswig that Matthew and I did about newspapers.

A lot of this is their own fault, but much of it isn’t. And in any case, it’s very sad and alarming that so many people are losing their jobs.

Watch my video on the Cloud. This is nothing compared to what’s coming if newspapers don’t create a good way to fight back.

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