Daryl Cagle & the Survival of Cartoon Journalism

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Daryl Cagle, by Daryl Cagle

For a while there has been a lot of discussion about the future of journalism and even the end of an era for newspapers. Cartoonists has been affected by a serious crisis of business models in print journalism. Daryl Cagle, one of the world’s most prolific editorial cartoonists, was optimistic when I talked with him about editorial cartooning syndication last year.

On the occasion of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists 2009 Convention held in Seattle, Cagle published a post on his blog offering an overview of the past and present of editorial cartoon syndication and specific advice for the future.

Cartooning and newspaper written journalism have of course a joint history, and parallels can be drawn between what is happening to practitioners of both disciplines. Cagle’s main advice for the editorial cartoonists of the 21st century is:

  • Produce consistently and steadily, not about local events, but with a global audience in mind.
  • Sign non-exclusive deals with as many syndicates, online stores and stock houses that you can find around the world.
  • Have your own web site where your work is easily available.
  • Publicize your site as best as you can.
  • Manage your work as a database of all your work, present and past.
  • Don’t accept long term contracts with syndicates, agents or online stores; always be free to move.
  • Don’t relay on anyone to take care of your career, but you.

This agenda is Cagle’s response to the challenges that his profession is facing.

“The big change we are seeing now in editorial cartooning is a continuing loss of full time jobs. It may be that cartoonists are losing their jobs at the same rate that other journalists are. We’re becoming freelancers, as seems to be true for many journalists now,” Cagle told me from New York City.

The problem for editorial cartoonists is not that newspapers are cutting on them, though –on the contrary, editorial cartoons “are more popular and influential than ever. Now with the web we have a bigger audience than ever,” Cagle says. He adds:

“Middle and high schools in the USA have the “interpretation” of an editorial cartoon on their state mandated testing in every state, and teachers teach to the test, pushing political cartoons on a new generation of readers.  The quality and range of styles in editorial cartoons is greater than ever before.”

Cagle Cartoons Mobile apps

Cagle Cartoons Mobile apps

Cagle’s own online syndicate,  Cagle Cartoons, Inc., which he founded in 2001, sells cartoons to more than 800 newspapers in the world.

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