Thursday, February 9, 2012

New York Times Weekly Cartoon Contest

The Sunday New York Times has just announced its new editorial cartoon contest! It has invited 80 top editorial cartoonists in the country to send in a completed editorial cartoon every Friday by 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The Times editors will select one cartoon to run in that Sunday's paper and award the winner a $250 prize.

The Times will require that it retain exclusive rights to the winning cartoon, meaning that it cannot be syndicated to other newspapers or magazines, or appear in books, or, presumably, be submitted to the Pulitzer committee. The 79 losing cartoonists will get bupkus for their efforts, but on the bright side, they don't have to pay an entry fee.

I'm not one of the select few cartoonists to receive the invitation to try to draw for the Times (remind me to cry over that later), so I don't have any personal stake in the righteous indignation of pretty much the entirety of my profession. Tom Richmond explains why we cartoonists have our panties in a knot over this:
"[T]he people who received this letter and were invited to participate are professional editorial cartoonists who are among the best in the business. They are being asked to work on spec, something that no creative professional should be asked to do, and the rate being offered is roughly 1/3 what exclusive printing rights should be going for."
 The kerfuffle probably mystifies those in the general public and the Huffington Post who think editorial cartoonists should be happy to draw for "exposure" alone. I've tried that -- my cartoons for the now defunct Racine Post were for exposure alone, and a lot of good that done me. I write this blog for exposure; ditto. (But then, I spend considerably less time on this blog than on cartooning, so there.)

I've got a couple of sunken lengths of sidewalk in front of my house. As soon as I find a contractor willing to fix my sidewalk for "exposure," I'll reconsider my lack of enthusiasm for cartooning jobs that pay in that precious commodity.

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