August 19, 2008

Journal Sentinel axes its editorial cartoonist

Newsroom cuts are everywhere in the dead tree world, although the newspapers don't always tell us who's going -- until they're gone and we notice missing bylines. (And, of course, there are many non-bylined editorial newsroom jobs that also just disappear, along with production, circulation, advertising, and other positions.)

At the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one high-profile departure has just surfaced. Two weeks ago, the JS announced it was trimming 130 jobs due to declining revenue -- Journal Communications today announced that total revenue at the Journal Sentinel and its community newspapers dropped 9.5% year-over-year in July -- but we didn't know who was leaving.

Today, it becomes clearer. One of the losses will be the Journal-Sentinel's long-time editorial page cartoonist, Stuart Carlson. His last day was Friday, Aug. 15 -- coincidentally, the anniversary of his 25th year with the newspaper -- and his last cartoon was printed Sunday. At one time, the Journal Sentinel had two editorial cartoonists; now it has none.

Stuart Carlson's last Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cartoon

Carlson said he was forced to take a buyout. He wrote in an email to
'Fraid it's true. Given the cutbacks planned at the JS I was told they could no longer “justify” having a full-time editorial cartoonist. Although I’m taking the buyout, I’m not going willingly. I’m being forced out.

Another sterling decision by the best and brightest in the paper’s management.

I’ll continue to be nationally syndicated in papers like the Washington Post.

I'll be looking for some other career around here.
Carlson's departure leaves only one editorial cartoonist still drawing for a Wisconsin newspaper. That's Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press Gazette, who self-syndicates to a number of small newspapers. Regardless of your politics, that's a sad state of affairs. (And a shame to give our own state and local politicians a free ride.)

Other cuts coming at the Journal Sentinel include the demise of the Real Estate section, the reduction of editorial pages (plural) to a single editorial page, and a report that the business section might be merged with the news department. On Aug. 2, we reported the elimination of the newspaper's weekly Racine section. And on July 24, the loss of seven jobs, still unspecified but including one reporter, at the Racine Journal Times.

Carlson's cartoons for the Journal Sentinel are archived HERE.

One final thought: Any budding editorial cartoonists out there? We'd love to talk about someone providing regular or occasional cartoons for RacinePost. If you're interested, you know how to contact us...


  1. I applaud your comments on the sad state of journalism in area newspapers. Despite finding new "news" electronically, I would like to see some of the "news" media take back some of their credibility by better reporting and keeping good editorial cartoonists. Besides, it's more difficult to find and read this information balancing a laptop, coffee, and breakfast plate at the lunch counter.

  2. Joe Heller draws for more than just small newspapers. He's seen in Newsweek, Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, etc. He's one of the largest syndicated cartoonists in the world. He also had an exhibit for himself at the Brown County Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He's a fantastic cartoonist. One to be applauded and put in the history books. Stuart Carlson looks like nothing compared to Heller!