By: Dave Astor
The St. Paul Pioneer Press laid off part-time editorial cartoonist Kirk Anderson effective April 24.
“I was told it was for budgetary reasons,” said Anderson, when contacted by E&P Online. “I was told it had nothing to do with the quality or nature of my work.”
Anderson, 37, joined the paper as a three-day-a-week staffer in 1995. April 10 was his eighth anniversary at the job.
Pioneer Press President and Publisher Harold Higgins, when returning an E&P Online call, declined to comment on Anderson or reports that the Knight Ridder paper also let go at least three other people. Mike Sweeney, administrative officer for the Minnesota Newspaper Guild-Typographical Union, couldn’t be reached for comment earlier Friday.
The Artizans-syndicated Anderson said he will probably do freelance cartooning and illustration for the time being. “I’ll miss drawing local cartoons,” he added. “I thought that’s what Knight Ridder was emphasizing — local, local, local.”
Anderson’s layoff continues a trend that has seen the ranks of staff editorial cartoonists dwindle to fewer than 100 in the U.S. as newspapers seek to save money and/or avoid running potentially controversial art.
In a statement, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists President Bruce Plante said: “We at the AAEC are aware of the financial realities of the newspaper industry, but our industry leaders must realize that by laying off an editorial cartoonist of Kirk Anderson’s stature, they are contradicting their own stated goals. Readership surveys have told us readers want more local content, more local commentary, and more visual elements. Editorial cartoonists provide all three. If our industry leaders are truly concerned about readership, laying off cartoonists like Kirk Anderson is the last thing they should do.” Plante, editorial cartoonist at the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press, added that the AAEC intends to “pursue” the Anderson situation in some way.