Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Rare Cartoon and Big Dark Cloud

Here is my cartoon as it appeared today in the Los Angeles Daily News.  It is rare for me to see my cartoon in the local newspapers in the vast editorial cartoon desert that is Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times, a newspaper with a rich history of editorial cartooning, doesn’t run editorial cartoons and has no staff cartoonist anymore (occasionally they will run a commissioned illustration from a freelancer with a political theme). The larger daily newspapers surrounding The LA Times are part of the Southern California News Group (SCNG) which includes my local Los Angeles Daily News, The Pasadena Star-News, The Riverside Press-Enterprise and The Long Beach Press-Telegram among others; these papers sell advertising more effectively as a group and prepare their editorial pages centrally from The Orange County Registera practice that is becoming more common. The same is true with the Bay Area News Group (BANG) up North, with their central editorial page staff at The San Jose Mercury News.

The SCNG group subscribes to our Cagle Cartoons package but only prints one traditional editorial cartoon per week, on Sundays; they dropped daily editorial cartoons to run the comic strip Mallard Filmore. The strip takes half the space of an editorial cartoon and is reliably conservative compared to liberal-leaning editorial cartoons, making Mallard a more attractive alternative from the newspapers’ point of view. SCNG also dropped their editorial pages entirely on Mondays and Saturdays; sadly, this is also common. (Fortunately, SCNG runs many more editorial cartoons on their Web sites.) Since only one cartoon per week can make it into print, it is rare for me to see my own cartoon in the local newspaper – of-course, one spot per week is much better than The Los Angeles Times with no spots per week and no editorial cartoons on their Web site.

Newspapers are shutting down editorial page staffs faster than they are dropping editorial pages and this sometimes works to our advantage. When SCNG and BANG consolidated all of their newspapers’ editorial page staffs, we picked up newspapers in the groups that we hadn’t been able to sell to before, so that all the papers in the groups could run the same content. A similar thing happened recently with McClatchy in North Carolina and we picked up two new papers, The Richmond News-Leader and The Durham Herald-Sun so that they can run a common weekly round-up of cartoons, prepared centrally by our brilliant cartoonist Kevin Siers at McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer.

I’m often asked what the trends are with editorial cartooning, and my rare cartoon in my local newspaper led to this long-winded answer. We will continue to see newspapers dropping their editorial pages, sometimes dropping only two pages per week, and sometimes dropping the editorial pages entirely. I’m told that editorial pages make readers angry, and papers don’t sell advertising on the editorial page, so editorial pages can be viewed as a costly hassle. Editorial cartoons will continue to lose their newspaper homes.

Newspapers will also continue to consolidate and we’ll see editorial page staffs continue to be cut, with regional groups consolidating their editorial staffs from multiple local papers into central locations; ironically, this is good for Cagle Cartoons as our content is so much better than competing syndicate packages that we continue to pick up more papers than we lose to the consolidation trend –which is a little silver lining on a big dark cloud.

Blog Syndicate

More Cartooning Woes

Here’s my recent cartoon about California battling President Trump. These Trump times are making trouble for cartoonists, too.

Here’s my cartoon in this morning’s Los Angeles Daily News ...

I used to see my cartoons in The Daily News regularly – not anymore. The Daily News is part of a group of about a dozen conservative-leaning papers called the Southern California News Group (SCNG) that is run from a central editorial command post at The Orange County Register. The SCNG papers redesigned their editorial pages to eliminate the traditional spot for a daily editorial cartoon (they run the smaller,  conservative comic strip “Mallard Fillmore” on their editorial pages). My cartoon is the only editorial cartoon in The Daily News today, and likely the only editorial cartoon in all of the SCNG papers this week (I haven’t checked each paper; this is an educated guess).

The Los Angeles area is now an editorial cartoon desert. The Los Angeles Times (which has a rich tradition of editorial cartooning including decades with three time Pulitzer winner, Paul Conrad) runs only one editorial cartoon per week; on Fridays they run a David Horsey cartoon. David was hired by the Times’ online division as a columnist who also draws cartoons. In the past the Times ran a syndicated editorial cartoon every day.

Cartoonists hear a lot about editorial cartoonists losing staff jobs, but we don’t hear much about newspapers dropping syndicated editorial cartoons; this plague is accelerating as American newspaper editors are becoming more vocal in pushing back against editorial cartoons.

A conservative Pennsylvania newspaper, The Butler Eagle, recently created some buzz among cartoonists by leaving their regular cartoon spot blank as a protest, because the editor couldn’t find a cartoon that he liked. Most newspaper editors are conservative, serving red-state rural and suburban Trump voters who push back against Trump-bashing cartoons. These conservative editors complain loudly and often that there are no “pro-Trump” cartoons. Our little syndicate has been fielding many of these calls from editors in recent days. It is even more difficult for newspapers like The Butler Eagle, which doesn’t subscribe to and doesn’t have much diversity of cartoons to choose from because of their poor choices of syndicate vendors. Even with our wider offering, we have very few cartoons that could be described as “pro-Trump”.

Editorial cartooning is a negative art. Supportive cartoons are lousy cartoons. I don’t know of any professional cartoonists who would describe themselves as “pro-Trump,” but I also don’t know cartoonists who would say that they were  “pro-Obama,” “pro-Bush” or “pro-Clinton.” A good editorial cartoonist dislikes everybody. We attack whoever is in power. We draw what the pundits are talking about on cable news: all Trump, all the time. Editors are coming off of eight years of cartoonists criticizing Obama; now that the cartoonists are focused on Trump, the editors in red-state Trumpland are grumpy.

We’ve gotten some calls from other media searching for pro-Trump cartoons online, asking us where to find them. One TV news outlet wanted to have a roundtable discussion between pro and anti-Trump cartoonists; they had searched the Web and found cartoons by amateur cartoonists posting “pro-Trump” cartoons on their own blogs. In repeated conversations, I explain the difference between professional cartoonists whose work is published by others and amateurs who post on their own social media accounts – but it seems that the distinction between professionals and amateurs has been lost. Sadly, this is happening as respect for all professional journalists is in decline while president Trump bashes the media endlessly.

Sad times for our profession continue.