Daryl Cagle Daryl Cagle, 7/7/2008 [Archive]

The Long, Agonizing Death of Newspapers Can be Funny!

Recently the Tribune Company announced that they were reviewing the productivity of reporters at their various newspapers, with an eye toward making sure that reporters generate 600 pages of text per year. Some newspapers, like the Orlando Sentinel, have reporters who generate lots of pages of text, and some, like the Los Angeles Times, have reporters who generate relatively few pages per year. This struck me funny, and I drew the cartoon below with Tribune Company CEO, Sam Zell, implementing his policy with ten thousand monkeys at typewriters. The cartoon created a stir at the LA Times newsroom, where some reporters printed it out in a large size and posted it in the newsroom for all to enjoy.

Tribune also announced cuts in their news coverage and number of pages, declaring that their newspapers would soon consist of 50% advertising (not counting the classified section and advertising inserts which would, of-course, make the newspapers well more than 50% advertising). Many editorial cartoonists face the argument that editorial cartoons must be cut, because cartoons "generate no income" ­ that is, with no ad attached to the cartoon, it is hard to say how much profit the cartoon generates. Our own Bob Englehart, cartoonist for the Tribune Company's Hartford Courant newspaper, responded to Tribune's announcement by circulating the gag cartoon below. Bob included the caption: "As of June 22, Englehart cartoons will be 50% advertising."

It would be funny if it weren't so true. I scanned the Dilbert cartoon (right) from my local Santa Barbara News-Press. A casual reader might read the last panel of the cartoon as the gag (the "awful thing" that is happening to the character is that terrible AM 1290 Santa Barbara News-Press Radio! ARRGH!) But no, it is just Dilbert, proving that he pulls his own weight by generating ad revenue in one of the panels.

Now, how do I go about getting some product placement in my cartoons? Editorial cartoons would be a great place for unpopular companies to advertise - maybe handgun manufacturers and tobacco companies need a little more support in editorial cartoons.

I'll get my people on it.

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