On Tuesday, May 6th, and with no explanation or notice to readers, the New York Post eliminated their entire lineup of daily comics. NCS president Tom Richmond sent the following letter to the Post:
Dear New York Post,
It is with great disappointment, and no small amount of confusion, that I learned of the New York Post’s recent decision to entirely drop the comics page from its publication. Being that the National Cartoonists Society is an organization of professional cartoonists, among whose members are the creators of the majority of the comics that used to grace your comics page, the reason for the disappointment is obvious. The confusion is another matter.
We all know the role of newspapers and print media in this electronically interconnected world has changed. They used to be the prominent source of breaking news and opinion on that news in this country. That is no longer the case thanks to the 24/7 nature of the Internet and the continued evolving of how the public consumes its media and entertainment. Today breaking news is old news by the time the newspaper hits the doorstep or the corner newsstand. Handheld devices have untethered the internet from our desktop computers and allowed us to take it along on the bus, the train, into the coffee shop, or wherever we wish to read about what’s going on in the world. Daily newspapers especially have a lot of stiff competition for reader’s eyes these days.
That’s where the confusion sets in concerning your decision to drop the comics page. The one strength newspapers and other print publications still have is that they can collect and present perhaps less timely but still relevant expanded news, opinion, and entertainment, written by vetted professionals into a convenient publication of great interest to a local market. Focusing on entertainment and more than a 140 character story on topics that readers still care about seems to me to be the best hope for the continued survival of newspapers. The daily comics are one of the most popular and read sections of newspapers, yet they have been treated like an afterthought for a long time. Despite being a truly American art form with a long and rich tradition and a tremendous following, newspapers have been shrinking the comics to postage-stamp size for years now, and have been reluctant or completely against adding in new, fresh cartoons that might have interest and relevance to younger readers. Now, we have a major newspaper dropping the comics entirely… perhaps one of the few sections that is read by virtually everyone who opens the paper. That seems to be cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s like a restaurant dropping one of its most popular items, one that keeps people coming back to their establishment, because it costs a bit more to make than the rest of the menu.
No one disputes that newspapers are struggling in the face of rising costs and declining readership. However, I don’t believe it is a smart business move to eliminate, in the name of cutting costs, one of the most popular and read parts of a newspaper. I hope you reconsider your decision and reinstate the comics page. It is one of the sections readers enjoy the most, and isn’t providing things your readers want to read the first priority of any publication?
National Cartoonists Society
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