Daryl Cagle Talks Future of Syndication

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By: E&P Staff

Daryl Cagle, MSNBC cartoonist and host of the Political Cartoonists Index Web site, offers a treatise on the site in which he discusses the future of syndication.

In recent decades, he writes, individual sales ?have given way to ?packages? of groups of cartoonists. It is cheaper and easier for an editor to subscribe to a group of cartoonists, with one monthly invoice for the whole group, than to keep track of individual subscriptions. By the 1980s and 1990s, competition between the packages had driven the prices for editorial cartoons down to alarmingly low levels, leading cartoonists to complain about the collapse of their profession.

?In fact, it was almost impossible for a cartoonist to sell his own work to newspapers,? he continues. ?If an editor could subscribe to the Copley News Service package of twelve great cartoonists for $24 per week, there was no sense in talking to an individual cartoonist about subscribing to only his work for $2 per week. The price for editorial cartoons had fallen so low that it would be embarrassing for an editor to even discuss price with a single cartoonist.

?Now that newspapers are failing, circulation is dropping, editors are cutting expenses anywhere they can, and prices for editorial cartoons couldn?t fall any lower, the future looks even bleaker for political cartoonists. A few years ago it looked like the Internet would be our salvation. There are some Web sites that are good customers, but sales to the Web have turned out to be a disappointment. There is no culture of paying for content on the Web. Advertising with content on the Internet pays a pittance. The Web is a dud.?

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