The Status of the Editorial Cartoonist

By | Thursday, September 07, 2023 Leave a Comment
I came across an old post of mine from 2008 in which I tried to address the question: "How Many Staffed Editorial Cartoonist Positions Will There Be Ten Years From Now?" At the time, there had just been a dozen let go of around 60 that were employed just before then, leaving about 50. In terms of trying to guess where things would be in 2018, I copped out by saying...
I think speculating ten years out on such a specific point is about impossible. I think it's safe to say that we're going to see a decrease in staff newspaper cartoonists over the next several years, but I can't even begin to imagine what the news/media outlets are going to look like in a decade, much less what sort of business models they'll be using, much less how many cartoonists will be on staff of those organizations.
I did a little digging to see where we are now and found this Michael Cavna piece from July, talking about how three more cartoonists had just been laid off. It also cites a earlier article noting that there were estimated to be "fewer than 30" in 2021; however, D.D.Degg counted -- by name -- 32 still active and employed full-time editorial cartoonists in mid-2022. In addition to the three cartoonists Cavna discusses, I can only find one other cartoonist in the past year that was laid off, but he was not on Degg's list. Which, provided neither Degg or I have missed anyone else, means there are, as of September 2023, twenty-nine full-time, staff editorial cartoonsts left.

Honestly, I'm kind of surprised. If I had been pressed back in 2008, I probably would've put the number somewhere around ten. So... yay? That it's not as bad as I thought it would be? I mean, given what we almost always hear about the editorial cartoonist situation -- in the AP report on the recent triple layoff, John Ohman estimates the current number is less than 20 -- I think not-as-bad-as-everyone-thinks-it-is isn't actually that awful. Which, for 2023, is about the most anyone can hope for, I think.
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