The slow and eternal agony of cartoons in traditional media

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The slow and eternal agony of cartoons in traditional media

Opinion pages of four Canadian newspapers without cartoons

Cartoonist Graeme MacKay (Ontario, 1968) reports on his Facebook page that four of the major Canadian newspapers belonging to the Postmedia group: the Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and Regina Leader Post have published stock photos in the traditional place for editorial cartoons on their opinion pages.

According to the cartoonist, this is not due to a lack of available satirical content, but to budget cuts.

Dropping cartoons allows newspapers to save $15 to $20 on freelance work, and editors ignore the fact that editorial cartoons are often the first thing readers look for in their newspapers. It also encourages its readers to let these newspapers know that this trend of eliminating cartoons is unacceptable.

The slow and eternal agony of cartoons in traditional mediaWhat is an editorial cartoon?
The illustrator and graphic humorist of Cincinatti, Kevin Necessary, published this short cartoon-strip-history trying to explain what in his opinion is an editorial cartoon.

I tried to find some more detailed reference to these cuttings (I’m still looking), but I have not been able to find a reliable and close source that talks about them.  I don’t know if this media group has decided to get rid of the cartoons for good or if it is just a temporary thing.

Last year, the Postmedia group already apologised and cancelled publication of a syndicated strip that ran in three of its newspapers after a controversy over a joke that was deemed offensive. Dozens of media outlets in Canada followed suit and cancelled publication of US cartoonist John McPherson’sClose to Home” strip series over a cartoon about the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

More media, less space for cartoons

Although from time to time there are rather wild opinion articles published by American authors who predict and/or assure the definitive disappearance of cartoons from the pages of traditional media, it is quite evident that cartoons (in their usual, more “editorial” version) are not going through their best moment while they enjoy good health on the internet, at least in terms of viralisation and the number of new and regular readers. The issue of filling the fridge by drawing squares for the digital flea market is another matter.

In Spain everything is still a little bit the same. In 2017 and 2018 a few cartoonists fell and the number of authors is not usually increased. At most, we see the replacement of the main cartoonists when they die, retire or due to some abrupt change in the editorial line.

 
   

Media that killed their cartoons

In 2019, The New York Times stopped publishing political cartoons in its international edition to coincide with the domestic edition, where there were no cartoons. On 1 July it said goodbye to satire and also to two of its cartoonists, Patrick Chappatte and Heng Kim Song.

Other media outlets later opted to kill the cartoons after some controversy. In 2020, the local newspaper, The Laconia Daily Sun (Laconia, New Hampshire), announced that it was ceasing to publish editorial cartoons after complaints about the publication of this cartoon by Mike Luckovitch.

In the same year, the Morning News in Florence, South Carolina, opted to break with the cartoons for good after a Gary McCoy cartoon on abortion and blacks provoked some complaints. On that occasion, the editor did not give it much thought and wrote that the cartoons “are expendable”.

Also in 2020, the Colombian daily Vanguardia sent three of its cartoonists on a trip: Edilberto Ardila “Argon“, Diego García “Diego Caricatura” and César Almeyda “Kékar“, the latter of whom had been publishing in the pages of Vanguardia for no less than 45 years. The sad reality is that in addition to earning very little, when you are fired there is nothing left.

The reasons for the cancellation of their cartoonists were “the difficult situation of falling revenues faced by the print media”, aggravated by the pandemic. This was stated in an editorial entitled “Our eternal gratitude“.

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