Last week, I wrote a column about a new policy initiated by The New York Times geared towards returning political cartoons to their Sunday Review section. I applauded the decision to bring back cartoons, but was critical of the paltry fee they were offering, as well as their idea to have cartoonists submit their ideas on spec.
Today I received an email from the Editors of The Times, which said:
As I’m sure you all know, we got a lot of reactions to our request for cartoons for a new feature in the Sunday Review — much of it negative. Your very good questions and criticisms of our process have forced us to take a second look, and to reconsider. We are going to postpone adding the cartoon to our section until we can figure out a process that is fair to cartoonists and also works for us.
This is good news, and hopefully they will consider all suggestions and come back with a more reasonable offer that respects the great work that political cartoonists do.
Here were my suggestions:
1. Try reprinting the best syndicated cartoons again, with signatures of the artists in place, and without the title, “Laugh Lines,” so that cartoons which make a reader cry or think might get equal play in The Times as the little jokes.
2. Or, if you want an exclusive cartoon, trust one cartoonist and pay him or her fairly. Find someone whose point of view is in line with The Times’ editorial stance; commit to that cartoonist and give him the same freedom that you do with your columnists. After all, editorial cartoonists are graphic columnists, except that our work is more powerful than the words of columnists. Nobody tears out a column and sticks it to their refrigerator.