Once a strong two newspaper town with competing editorial cartoonists, Seattle now faces the prospect of not having a local voice penning cartoons as The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington's longest-published newspaper, has been put up for sale.
After a local Seattle television station broke the news, the newspaper's staff was called into a closed meeting with Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.’s newspaper division.
If a buyer is not found, Swartz said, possible options include creating an all-digital operation with a greatly reduced staff, or closing its operations entirely. In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form.
“This is awful, awful, awful,” said David Horsey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the P-I. “I was just standing there looking around at all these people I love to work with. I don’t want this to happen to me or them.”
Horsey penned a cartoon for Sunday's P-I, which features a famous quote by Thomas Jefferson, who is worried that America will soon have a government without newspapers.
If the P-I is forced to close, it would leave Seattle without a local editorial cartoonist. Eric Devericks, who was the editorial cartoonist for the rival Seattle Times, was laid off back in November after spending over 6 years with the paper.
Like every remaining staff cartoonist, Horsey has been following the ever-increasing financial troubles that major newspapers are facing. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand the business reasons behind closing down a local institution.
“You realize you’re part of a huge implosion of the newspaper industry,” he said.
Editorial Cartoonist's Convention
Tied in with the recent news of the potential closing of the P-I is the annual convention for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, scheduled to take place July 1-4 in Seattle.
As the P-I and David Horsey have been planning to host the convention, the potential of the 146-year-old newspaper to close is a cause of concern for the board members of the AAEC.
Wiley Miller, the cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Non Sequitur, kept it light by commenting on The Daily Cartoonist that "the Seattle convention venue has been downsized to being held at the airport Motel 6."
"The meetings will all take place in parking lot, and the lunch / dinner venues will be held at the McDonald’s around the corner."
According to JP Trostle, both Horsey and AAEC President Ted Rall are vigorously pursing additional sponsorships in case the P-I is no longer around come summer.
Steve Greenberg, a former editorial cartoonist for the P-I, added "Maybe the University of Washington has some dorm rooms where we can crash."
David Horsey is a Cagle.com cartoonist. View more of his cartoons here.