By: Dave Astor
Michael Ramirez received a few job feelers from general-circulation newspapers after he lost his staff editorial cartoonist post at the Los Angeles Times. He also contemplated doing cartoons just for Copley News Service, which syndicates Ramirez to enough papers (400-plus) to make a living without a staff job. So why did the Pulitzer Prize winner opt to join Investor’s Business Daily?
“Bill O’Neil, IBD’s founder and chairman, was very convincing,” replied Ramirez, when interviewed Tuesday by E&P. “And he offered me a position as senior editor as well as staff cartoonist.”
That means Ramirez — a member of the IBD editorial board — will have input on what’s published on the IBD editorial page and may even write columns for the publication.
Ramirez, who left the Times last month and started at IBD Monday, added that he’s impressed with the content of IBD’s editorial page: “It’s conservative in many ways, but well-rounded. There are a lot of powerful and compelling articles.” He contrasted this with the “mediocre” editorial pages of some general-circulation dailies that “don’t want to offend anybody.”
One reason for that mediocrity, noted Ramirez, is the decrease in staff cartoonists. “It’s like taking the wheels off a car,” he explained. “You may save some money, but you’ll go nowhere. Having an editorial cartoonist is one way for a newspaper to connect with readers. It compels readers to pick up a newspaper.”
IBD, he said, bucked the job-elimination trend by creating the staff cartoonist post for him.
In that post, Ramirez plans to draw at least four cartoons a week. The IBD staffer will continue to deliver the same kind of political and social commentary he did at the Times (rather than business-oriented cartoons) and will continue to be syndicated by Copley. But Ramirez’s IBD work will differ from his black-and-white Times work in a couple of ways: Two cartoons a week may be in color, and Los Angeles and California issues won’t be addressed unless they’re of national import. IBD is a national publication.
Ramirez, who’ll work in IBD’s Los Angeles office as well as out of his home, said IBD doesn’t have the circulation of the Times but has many “influential” readers. The cartoonist added that he’ll still have a general-circulation audience via the newspapers to which he’s syndicated by Copley.