Despite the loss of over a dozen staff political cartoonist jobs in the last year alone and the imminent closure of the sponsoring newspaper for this year's American Association of Editorial Cartoonists' (AAEC) convention, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the AAEC is pressing on with its plans to hold its convention in Seattle on July 1-4.
"There has never been a more important time to come together and discuss the economic, technological and demographic challenges confronting journalism," said Ted Rall, AAEC President and a syndicated editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate.
The AAEC's decision to go ahead with their convention bucks the trend set by several longstanding media groups to shutter their conventions this year, including The World Association of Newspapers, The Magazine Publishers of America and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
"The challenging times that we face really require our members, the top editors of newspapers across the country, to be in their newsrooms," said an ASNE spokesperson.
Panelists and speakers at this year's AAEC convention will discuss the future of syndication, animated editorial cartoons, how cartoonists can thrive after losing staff jobs, the growing world of graphic novels, and how to brand themselves and the work they do for newspapers using social networking sites, and other topics related to moving cartoons and newspapers forward.
The 2009 AAEC convention will also feature the association's second Cartoonapalooza, an event where tickets will be available to the public. Seattle residents will be invited to hear, meet and exchange ideas with the nation's top cartoonists at the city's historic Town Hall.
"The public loves editorial cartoons and it loves newspapers," said Rall. "We have to figure out how to re-monetize that relationship in the digital age."