Understanding the Value of the Local Connection

Stantis, Scott
December 2004
Nieman Reports;Winter2004, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p37
This article presents the author's views on the opportunity provided the cartoons to relate with the local community. Given the market-driving dynamics, editors of newspapers do not have much motivation to keep an editorial cartoonist on staff. Yet the argument can--and should--be made that it is the newspaper's best interest--editorially and commercially--to provide its readers with a connection to local issues, not only with reporting but also with the cartoons it carries. No syndicated cartoonist has the ability to tap into local issues or a community's mindset. If the role of a cartoonist is viewed as being like that of a columnist--someone whose work truly engages readers--then local cartoons are essential. As a staff cartoonist with The Birmingham (Alabama) News, my cartoons provide another opportunity to carry on a conversation with the people who live here. And if I do not cartoon about the foibles and squabbles over local and state issues, who will? The late Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the editorial pages of The Birmingham News, Ron Casey, used to half joke, Cartoonists are expensive, and they are a lot of trouble. Thank goodness Ron and the rest of the management of this newspaper believe the expense is worth the trouble. Each morning I read the newspaper to see if there is a local story that warrants a cartoon.


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