Here’s a column I wrote for “The Masthead,” the journal for the ASNE (American Society of News Editors) editorial page editors group.
What editorial cartoonists want to draw, what editors want to see from cartoonists, and what readers want in cartoons are very different. We have good statistics on which cartoons editors download. Editors prefer cartoons, drawn in a traditional style, which do not express a strong opinion that some readers might disagree with.
Editors prefer cartoons that are funny over cartoons that make readers think or cry.
Editors prefer cartoons that do not deviate from the topics that the pundits are talking about on TV.
American editors prefer cartoons by American cartoonists. International editors prefer cartoons that are not drawn by American cartoonists.
More than half of America’s daily, paid circulation newspapers subscribe to our CagleCartoons.com service for editorial page editors. Our package includes about sixty top cartoonists from around the world and a dozen great columnists. To see how it works, visit CagleWorld.com. We’re cheap and easy and we’re happy to give a generous free trial subscription to any editors who would like to give us a try. We’re the best!
We get statistics on what online readers prefer from the traffic patterns to our Cagle.com site. Unlike editors, readers are open to many topics, including those that are not today’s TV pundit topics. Readers prefer strong opinions in cartoons. Like American editors, our mostly American audience on Cagle.com shows little interest in issues from around the world and they prefer cartoons by American cartoonists.
Editors and readers prefer cartoons about celebrities in the news. The most popular section ever on Cagle.com was Janet Jackson’s boob at the Super Bowl with a whopping sixty million page views. Like most editorial cartoonists, I’m not interested in celebrities, but my most popular cartoons are celebrity obituary cartoons.
Cartoonists prefer cartoons that express strong opinions; we’re frustrated that editors don’t reprint these cartoons much. Most newspaper jobs for editorial cartoonists are gone now; we’re freelancers who are underpaid and struggling. We’re motivated by the joy of being a part of the public debate. We would like for editors to see us as graphic columnists rather than as bomb-throwers or clowns.
Most of America’s 1,400 daily, paid circulation newspapers are small, rural or suburban newspapers with conservative readers, so most editors prefer conservative cartoons to liberal cartoons. The vast majority of editorial cartoonists are liberal and the most frequent complaint we get from editors is that there are not enough conservative cartoons (even though we have many more conservative cartoons than competing packages). We feature a “Trump-Friendly” section on the front page of CagleCartoons.com to point out these cartoons to editors who overlook them. Sometimes dealing with editors is like coaxing kids to eat their broccoli.
Because editors prefer such a narrow range of styles and topics, editorial cartoonists (who are not a diverse group themselves) often come up with cartoons that are similar. Sometimes a dozen cartoonists will draw the same, obvious gag; we call these matching cartoons “Yahtzees.” Columnists do the same thing, often making matching arguments about the issue of the day, but matching cartoons are more obvious than words. Sometimes editors complain that they don’t need to subscribe to more cartoons because the cartoons they see are “all the same,” but editors shun cartoons that are not similar.
Many editors ask, “Why don’t you have more pro-Trump cartoons?” Editorial cartooning is a negative art form. Cartoons in favor of anything are lousy cartoons. Even conservative cartoonists don’t draw pro-Trump cartoons. After the presidential election, cartoonists stopped drawing cartoons criticizing president Obama and Hillary Clinton, a change that disturbed many conservative editors who perceived a sudden shift to the left.
Another top complaint from editors is, “Why don’t you post more cartoons about holidays, and post them earlier?” We put topical keywords on the front page of CagleCartoons.com to help editors find the funny, inoffensive holiday cartoons that they might overlook. Most holiday cartoons don’t go stale. We have a great selection in our archive of over 200,000 key worded cartoons; many editors miss these because they only look at cartoons that are new.
What I would like to see from editorial page editors is more interest in diversity of cartoon content – in style, topic and point of view. I’d like to see editors choose great cartoons over funny cartoons. I’d like for editors to show more tolerance for foreign cartoonists and topics.
All that said, editors are our customers and most of them are great editorial cartoon fans. We love our editors. That’s why we want them to eat their broccoli.
Daryl Cagle is an editorial cartoonist and the owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. E-mail Daryl at [email protected]. For more information, visit CagleWorld.com. For a free trial subscription e-mail [email protected].