Golden age of editorial cartooning is dead

A report from the The Herb Block Foundation declares the “golden age of editorial cartooning is dead.

A couple dour quotes from the report:

The Golden Age for editorial cartoonists at the nation’s newspapers is over.
At the start of the 20th century, there were approximately 2,000 editorial cartoonists employed by newspapers in the United States. Today there are fewer than 40 staff cartoonists, and that number continues to shrink.


The result has been an apparent devaluation of editorial cartoonists in the eyes of the nation’s newspaper publishers. Asked what economic value newspaper publishers put on editorial cartooning, an official of one of the nation’s leading syndicates said: “Not much.” And publishers who still value editorial cartooning find it much cheaper to purchase their cartoons from a syndicate. That way, said Paul Tash of the St. Petersburg Times, “you can pick the best cartoon of the day.”

The report isn’t all gloom and doom. It also looks forward to some of the challenges and potential for those willing to brave the new era of journalism:

Many journalists have learned the value of personal branding, making a name and distinctive identity for yourself that is independent of where you work. That way, your audience learns to follow you wherever you go. Active use of social media and a bit of self-promotion are key elements of personal branding. Create a strong, identifiable brand for yourself, nurture it and stick to it, and you?ve got something that can supercharge the skills you bring to your craft and create demand for your services. Nobody else is going to promote you like you can.

The report also contains 11 essays by leading editorial cartoonists: Clay Bennett, Matt Davies, Mark Fiore, Kevin Kallaugher (KAL), Mikhaela B. Reid, Jen Sorensen, Scott Stantis, Ed Stein, Ted Rall, Ann Telnaes, Matt Wuerker.

2 thoughts on “Golden age of editorial cartooning is dead

  1. Someday I’m going to write a book about the past year. I had very, very strong local brand and it didn’t help. Well, not at least with my job. But the community’s appreciation of my work (and my community outreach) over the past 15 years has paid off. I have a radio show. I’m speaking frequently. Social media has built my brand even stronger. I’m still part-time at the paper for now.

    If I look back, I get angry. If I look forward I’m hopeful. I will continue to look forward.

    I wish all the remaining editorial cartoonists luck. It’s a grand craft and I’ve been very proud to have been part of it.

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