I was depressed the day The Rocky Mountain News closed its doors. It was a big loss for the community of Denver. I liked the Rocky. I liked its design and layout, I liked its articles, its choice of syndicated comics. I loved its local flavor. I liked its editorial slant, more conservative than its counterpart, The Denver Post. I had dreams of one day being in The Rocky Mountains News as a staff cartoonist.
The dying newspaper industry indicates a dramatic shift in how we get our information. It is obvious people now resort to the web to get their news. And with the ease of publishing websites, more and more people are becoming their own journalists with blogs and forums and Facebook pages and tweets. Quantity has gone up, while quality has somewhat suffered.
What newspapers offered was the ability to connect to people on the local level. We lose this community with the global internet. Another problem with the internet is that nothing exists that can stop anybody from posting anything. Not that this is a bad thing, except that people generally take their news source as gospel, and where a publisher of a large printed publication has several eyes that reads material in order to assure accuracy, on the internet, conspiracy rants pass as news and some people become inflamed over issues they know little about. We all benefit from the filters that print journalism helps provide.
Cartoonists, unfortunately, are the hardest hit. When looking at cutting costs, it seems the artists are the most expendable. (Who wants to get rid of their accounting staff?) Many cartoonists today are struggling to get by as they are fired by their papers and are having to supplement their means through the few syndication avenues that exist. Some have left the profession altogether. Many wonder if being a paid cartoonist will even be possible in the future.
I believe that people like to laugh and like to be entertained. While this is a difficult transition for cartoonists as they have to figure out new ways to generate revenue through the web, the demand for cartoons will never die. Blacksmiths had to abandon the trade as the horse and buggy gave way to the automobile. However, their skills as a blacksmith was still in demand as the world now needed auto mechanics. They just needed to relearn a few things. I believe the same will hold true for today’s cartoonists as we work tirelessly on our craft and adjust to the new and coming age.