Matt Bors: editorial cartooning is dying

Jake Tapper of CNN talks with editorial cartoonist Matt Bors about the state of the editorial cartooning industry.

Not exactly stunningly new information, but I like that Jake has a soft spot for cartoonists and features them on his program.

15 thoughts on “Matt Bors: editorial cartooning is dying

  1. The state of editorial cartooning just breaks my heart. Most of the best cartoonists of the past 40 years were/are newspaper political cartoonists, and today such skill is scarcely valued.

  2. The profession is dead, or almost dead. However the art form may survive in some fashion but will have to compete with free memes that are created anonymously and much faster. Then there is the question of relevancy. Editorial cartooning is just not a part of daily media consumption for a growing number of people like they once were. I just don?t think that Gen Y understands them and won?t miss what they really have never grown up reading.
    Cartooning of all kinds is facing a tough time thanks in part to the changing face of media. Editorial cartooning faces an especially tough time since without a salary from a newspaper to pay the cartoonist there really is no other way to monetize the art form. Publishers won?t take on or market editorial cartoon book collections because they just won?t sell. Ever seen someone trying to sell them at a comic con? Nope. That doesn?t work either.
    Unlike other forms of cartooning, you can?t copyright characters to license and mass market. Uncle Sam, elephants, donkeys, fat cats and all the rest of the imagery is public domain. Furthermore, you?ve got several hundred other guys drawing the same group of characters on the same day about the same topics. Imagine if several hundred people were drawing Snoopy at the same time Schulz was, kinda confuses things. Or if several hundred other cartoonists all did the ?kick the football? gag in their strips on the same day Schulz did his. You get the point. There is nothing proprietary about editorial cartoons for the most part.
    After the jobs totally go away most guys will realize that cartooning just for syndication may not be worth it any longer and quit to explore other forms of cartooning or illustration. Without cartoonists to provide the syndicates with material the syndicates will be facing really tough times.
    I know a lot of my former colleagues have left the profession and have gone on to do children?s books, graphic novels or went to work for animation studios just to name a few.
    Character driven story based cartooning in a variety of formats has the best prospects for the future?but editorial cartooning faces the biggest challenge.

  3. This story demonstrates why this profession, as much as any,
    needs a publicist.

    Tapper reports Editorial cartoons are fading from America’s
    newspapers. But in actual fact nearly every daily paper in
    this country still runs at least one, and sometimes two editorial
    cartoons daily on their opinion page.

    So it’s false to say editorial cartoons are fading from the press.
    What’s been lost, is salaried staff positions. Just as has happened with reporters, copy editors, photographers….

    Yet at the same time in the past few years, the Dispatch has
    hired Nate Beeler, The Bee, hired Ohman, the L.A. times did
    a deal with Horsey. It would have been nice if that were noted in Tapper’s analysis.

    In addition many editorial cartoonist have had success making
    the transition to online digital with color and animated cartoons
    reaching new audiences. A good part of my morning routine
    is now spent engaging with online comments which can reach
    to over a couple hundred on hot button topics.

    Editorial cartoons are still laughs and curses in print and clicks

  4. Correction,
    Editorial cartoons are still getting laughs and curses in print
    and now clicks and comments online

  5. Thanks Stacy. You’re a great example of someone who has had a great cartooning career post editorial cartooning.

    Jeff- You are absolutely correct. Someone watching this story would get the impression that newspapers have stopped running the cartoons altogether. In fact, as you stated, most papers run at least one a day if not several on their op-ed pages. Their popularity remains strong among editors but the jobs have been cut by publishers just like those of reporters, copy editors, photographers etc. Editorial cartoonists have lost far less numbers that the other jobs mentioned nationwide.

    I however, still stand by my points. One big problem I see is future relevancy. The next generation, those in high school now (Gen Y) have never grown up reading editorial cartoons because they have never read a newspaper. They won’t go on to work at newspapers but will go on to work for online publications where they will be far less inclined to support a tradition they are not familiar with. So yes, newspapers are still running editorial cartoons but the next generation doesn’t read newspapers. What then?

  6. The number of full time editorial cartoonists is continuing to drop and I don’t think anyone believes it’s ever going to exceed the point where it’s at now. Lots of great people are doing great work, but I’m tired of trying to paint a smiley face on the industry.

    The hires of Beeler, Ohman, and Horsey are great–but they are some of the only hires in the last decade. I might be adding my name to the list soon, but let’s not kid ourselves.

  7. You also have to remember that the even though Beeler, Ohman and Horsey were hired at other papers, the job openings they left behind were either eliminated or never filled. It’s really just shifting the chairs around the deck of the Titanic.

  8. Who knew we’d reach the point where an illustrated opinion would be considered “dangerous to readership” by so many publications …

  9. Opinion cartooning (as I like to call it) is not dead, just have to take a look a the social networks to see it’s pretty much alive, what is dying is the business model that used to support it financially, where is that new business model that can be the support now?… that should be the focus of discussion, not spend time beating a “dead” horse.

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