CJR Looks at Editorial Cartooning Today

The fury cartoonists inspire is as old as the form.

In many ways, the unmatched ability of cartoons to quickly and efficiently insult is ideally suited to our era of Donald Trump and outrage clicks—for better and for worse.

“It’s immediate,” Eli Valley, a cartoonist, says of the rage inspired by his comics about United States-Israel politics.

Matt Wuerker, the cartoon editor at Politico, says, “We’re perfect for the short attention spans of the clickthrough age we’re living in.”

But not all see how “perfect” the editorial cartoon is.

Last year, after Rob Rogers, a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, enraged his publisher with a cartoon about Donald Trump’s trade policies, he lost his contract there.

In April, after the Times international edition published an antisemitic cartoon … Two months later, [Opinion Editor James] Bennet vowed to never publish a cartoon in the international edition again. Patrick Chappatte and Heng Kim Song, the international edition’s two in-house cartoonists, who had nothing to do with the image in question, lost their jobs.

In June, Michael de Adder…posted a cartoon [denigrating the president] to Twitter … Within a day, the Brunswick News said it was ending de Adder’s contract. A freelancer, de Adder relied on the Brunswick News for 40 percent of his income.

It seems there are dwindling platforms for opinion cartoonists.

“I’m feeling that pinch,” says Peter Kuper, whose political cartoons have appeared in The Nib, Mad, The New Yorker, and elsewhere…“Thank goodness for the internet,” he adds. He draws a new cartoon every day, even if only to post it on Twitter. “I do it for my own sanity.”

The Columbia Journalism Review checks the current State of the Art.

Wuerker, of Politico, is hopeful that the enduring power of cartoons will create more openings for publications aiming for impact online. There’s one promising opportunity: in August, Wired began publishing cartoons daily.



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