“a crisis of newspapers failing to connect”

The Associated Press drops the story of McClatchy ridding themselves of political cartoons and cartoonists.

Here, via the Voice of America, is the AP article by David Bauder:

The firings of the cartoonists employed by the McClatchy newspaper chain last week were a stark reminder of how an influential art form is dying, part of a general trend away from opinion content in the struggling print industry.

Losing their jobs were Jack Ohman of California’s Sacramento Bee, also president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists; Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky and Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. Ohman and Siers were full-time staffers, while Pett worked on a freelance contract. The firings Tuesday were first reported by The Daily Cartoonist blog.

© Jack Ohman, cartoons now without a Sacramento Bee line

AP got in touch with Jack Ohman and Joel Pett for the article:

“I had no warning at all,” Ohman told The Associated Press. “I was stupefied.”

“There’s a broader reluctance in this political environment to make people mad,” said Tim Nickens, retired editorial page editor at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. “By definition, a provocative editorial cartoonist is going to make somebody mad every day.”

Pett agrees.

“I could have looked at the guy who fired me and said, ‘I’ll do it for free,’ and they would have said no,” he said.

© Lexington Herald-Leader/Joel Pett, still appearing in The Herald-Leader for the moment

Meanwhile, the Kevin Siers story is covered by Axios Charlotte:

Between the lines: Siers began drawing cartoons for the Observer in 1987, according to the Charlotte Ledger, which first reported the news. Siers’ 2014 Pulitzer is the Observer’s most recent of its five total wins.

  • Siers is widely known as a fearless journalist who’d criticize people, organizations and politicians from across the spectrum.
© Kevin Siers, Kevin’s cartoons, sans a Charlotte Observer line, will continue via Cagle distribution

Headline from the AP story quoting The Daily Cartoonist’s own Mike Peterson!

5 thoughts on ““a crisis of newspapers failing to connect”

  1. This country is headed down a dark path. Whatever happened to “I may not agree with what you say, but I will die for your right to say it”?

    1. The country’s been on a “dark path” since the advent of television, or radio before that, or cheap newspapers before that. We have new technology and new ways to communicate and have to figure out how to cope, social norms have changed, and the world is looking different—something that’s been happening since the dawn of time. Some folks will adapt easier than others and the younger generations that have grown up around it will carry on as if it’s no big deal—until the next big change comes along and they can start griping about everything going downhill themselves.

      People are as thin-skinned and easily offended as they’ve always been—they’re just more visible online than they were in the days of lone cranks writing unpublished letters to the editor.

  2. Joel Pett is my hometown editorial cartoonist and a nice man and a Pulitzer Prize winner. I think I’ll cancel our subscription to his ’employer’, the increasingly empty Lexington Herald-Leader.

  3. Mr. Franklin had the best idea when he introduced political cartooning to America in the 1700’s. Since that day, political cartoons have swayed many folks to see the other side of an argument or discussion. Printed words are excellent when they are read. However, illustrations have a “pow” factor which is not to be dismissed. Many casual readers could look at the cartoon, read the caption (if any), and be more or less enlightened, or perhaps swayed to rethink their opinions. If newspapers wish to remain relavent, it appears to me they would be wise to retain their political cartoonists.

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