Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist writes about cartoonists’ self-proclaimed status as an ‘endangered species’:
When I wrote last week that today’s editorial cartoonists are ‘infatuated by their own victim status’ this is an example of what I mean. It’s becoming an incessant whine that their profession is in decline – but it’s been that way for over 50 years and I’m starting to gloss over on the message. It’s not new, and it doesn’t tell me (if I was a newspaper editor) why in this changing environment I should keep the cartoonist other than to continue the grand tradition.
I posted a flippant response, asking
Quick question: are there more
1. Cartoonists giving speeches and writing articles about how editorial cartoons are an essential and irreplaceable form of political discourse, or
2. Cartoonists drawing interchangeable cartoons starring a few dogs wisecracking about Michael Vick?
I chose the wrong Michael Vick Standard to mock, but honestly, if you were Drew Sheneman’s editor at the Newark Star Ledger, Mark Streeter’s editor at the Savannah Morning News or Gary Varvel’s editor at the Indianapolis Star-News, how special would you feel that you have a staff cartoonist who turned in almost the exact same cartoon that any other newspaper in the country could have plucked off the syndicate?
I’m still not sure why all these cartoonists even made Michael Vick cartoons. I mean, sure, it was all over the news, but do we really need a cartoonist’s unique perspective to say illegal dogfighting is bad?
It seems many cartoonists today would much rather give speeches or write passionate journal articles about the endangered status of the industry. But in this case, a picture would be far more effective than the thousands words wasted on the topic. Rather than rushing to make yourselves irrelevant, prove that you deserve that page space more than a syndicated cartoon.