While cutting off essential body parts is an effective weight-loss strategy, it tends to have bad long-term health consequences. So it is that yet another cartoonist is let go and the position eliminated, all in the name of cost-cutting. North Carolina-based Indy Week is dropping its long-time political cartoonist Cullum Rogers without plans for a replacement.
Rogers, who has drawn for the alt-weekly newspaper for 21 years under the name VC Rogers, was just last year named best cartoonist by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. In addition, Indy Week has a long history of publishing and supporting editorial cartoons, most recently as a sponsor of the 2016 Political Cartoon & Satire Festival at Duke University.
Soon after buying the paper in 2012, Mark Zusman told Romensko, "The Indy [is] situated in a great market, filled with readers who care about local news. … We hope to continue that arc."
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists is disappointed that Zusman and co-owner Richard Meeker seem to have forgotten what makes local, local. Cartoonists dealing with local issues are often one of the few features that give a newspaper identity and character. A good, local cartoon can hit like a Great White Shark attack. It leaves scars.
We all know publishers face challenges, but eliminating original, local content is not the answer. It’s cutting off one’s nose (or some other body part) to spite your readership.
Meeker and Zusman also own Portland’s Willamette Weekly, described in a recent Columbia Journalism Review article as "…smart, gutsy, colorful, conversational, self-aware, funny, buttressed by context and background, and fueled by righteous anger against Orwellian privacy invasions and the hypocrisy of public officials."
Sounds like a job custom-made for cartoonists.
The AAEC hopes that, even if they do not hire back VC Rogers, Indy Week restores the position and invests in another editorial cartoonist.
the Board of Directors of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
Pat Bagley, AAEC President
Kevin Siers, President-Elect
Nate Beeler, Vice President
Monte Wolverton, Secretary-Treasurer
Ann Telnaes, Immediate Past President
Ed Hall, Mike Thompson, Ann Cleaves, Board Members
VC Rogers final cartoon, published on January 31, 2018.