Cavna Calls on Cancelled Cartoonists

On Tuesday, three Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists — Ohman of the Sacramento Bee, Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer [links added]— were all let go by McClatchy newspapers.

Jack Ohman cannot recall another day like it, even amid decades of brutal cuts in the field of newspaper political cartooning.

© Charlotte Observer/Kevin Siers

Ohman and Siers confirmed their firings to The Washington Post. Pett, who noted that he was a freelance employee, said his last day will be later this month.

The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna contacted the cartoonists for reaction:

Ohman said he was “stunningly blindsided” when informed of his firing. “I don’t know what to make of it,” he added, noting that he was the only Bee staffer to be laid off.

“There seems to be a rethinking among corporate management over the years as to how a newspaper’s opinion pages should engage with readers. They’ve convinced themselves and the industry that readers no longer appreciate good editorial cartoons, when I feel that it’s the boardroom itself that is uncomfortable with our satire,” Siers said.

“It is not the readers but the industry gatekeepers who have given up on political cartoons, for a variety of reasons,” Pett told The Post. “They don’t see how [political cartoons] make any money and they alienate people, and they can be a pain in the neck. So why bother, just because they are historically powerful and popular, and a longtime mainstay of the Fourth Estate? The democracy is doing great, right?”

update: The Spokesman-Review carries the text of the Washington Post story with no paywall.

© Sacramento Bee/ Jack Ohman

The Washington Examiner also carried the story:

Political junkies lost three Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists this week when the McClatchy chain issued a round of cuts that it blamed on changing reader trends.

“This is a difficult decision, as it affects two of our talented colleagues, both Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion cartoonists. Each has provided readers with sharp, artful and insightful commentary that holds officials and institutions accountable. We are grateful for their important contributions to journalism and their commitment to excellence,” said the statement from Peter St Onge, McClatchy national opinion editor.

Also out of Washington The Herb Block Foundation released a statement:

The Herb Block Foundation is shaken to see the continued disappearance of the staff positions of editorial cartoonists at newspapers and the lack of regard for their importance…

© Lexington Herald-Leader/Joel Pett

For the first time in over a decade Jack Ohman released an editorial cartoon without a Sacramento Bee byline.


The Charlotte Ledger covers Kevin Siers being axed by McClatchy:

Siers and St. Onge declined to comment to The Ledger on Tuesday. On Wednesday, after a version of this article appeared online, Siers posted on Facebook that he had been laid off and said:

Being able to work at the same newspaper for almost 36 years has been an incredible run in this business. … I’m thankful for the great support I’ve had over the years from my editors, my Observer colleagues, and from our readership.

He said he plans to “continue to cartoon in some capacity” and will continue to have his national work syndicated, as well as to “do more fishing.”

8 thoughts on “Cavna Calls on Cancelled Cartoonists

  1. Since political cartooning is often subtle, I’d say removing these clever quips from the paper media is indicative of the overall reduction of intelligent readers.

  2. Sorry that Kevin declined to comment to Charlotte Ledger. They are my go-to publication for business news.

  3. Who in this story are unafraid of speaking to power? Even “perceived” power? Cartoonists on every spot of the spectrum, get together and start a website – I will subscribe and pay to read – even those with whom I don’t agree. Signed, the Lone Radical of South Dakota. (Oh, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m a 72-year-old grandma. What can I do…?)

    1. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) has been working to revamp its website — Daily Cartoonist is sure to spread the word when it’s finally up and running. Meanwhile, there is also for daily cartoons from the left, right, and just for laughs.

Comments are closed.