Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Humor Can Save the Daily

CARTOONISTS may have played a crucial role in the Australian newspaper industry - and they may have been lauded by John Hartigan, chairman and chief executive of News Limited (publisher of The Australian) at an exhibition opening several weeks ago - but the scribblers fear they are being slowly squeezed out of existence.

Nevertheless, they believe cartoons could be the key to luring younger readers back to newspapers.

Hartigan called a truce with his occasional foe ABC managing director Mark Scott last month to launch an exhibition of some of Australia's best political cartoons.

"Mark and I don't agree on everything," Hartigan said. "But I am sure he would acknowledge that while there are things broadcasters do better than newspapers, political cartooning isn't one of them.

"This great craft is not immune to new technology, but it remains an art that finds its best expression in newspapers."

Peter Broelman, a freelance cartoonist from Adelaide who was named cartoonist of the year at the 25th Stanley Awards recently, says many editors and newspaper bean counters have seen cartoons as an easy cost-saving target.

Broelman, whose political cartoons appear in 18 regional publications across the country, fears editors have forgotten the value of both political and strip cartoons.

"I think what a lot of people forget is that people still like comic strips," Broelman says. "I think a lot of editors forget that their readers are still visual people."

While many newspapers now have either dropped once popular syndicated cartoons or squeezed them into tiny spaces deep within the paper, Broelman recalls an age when cartoons were a crucial element of newspaper marketing.

And he also notes that cartoons were an important way of getting young readers to pick up newspapers.

"I guess the biggest impact has been the dreaded bean counters newspapers are now under the control of and the financial pressures of the global financial crisis. And there is also the internet," he says. . .

Full Article at The Australian

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