Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Editorial Cartoonists insulted by NYT solicitation

An editorial cartoonist tells Romenesko readers: “There’s a little tempest brewing in the cartoon teapot over an offer the NYT sent out yesterday to editorial cartoonists to submit sketches on spec. They then pick one to run in the Sunday Review section for which they’ll pay $250. A bunch of the cartoonists they solicited are taking the whole thing as an insult.”
Here’s the Times’ email

Hello -
The Sunday Review section is bringing back editorial cartoons! Each week a single-panel cartoon will run on page 2, facing our weekly comics by Brian McFadden.
Please email your submissions to sundayreviewcartoons@nytimes.com
There will be a few changes to the format we used at The Week in Review
- We will run 1 single-panel cartoon a week.
- The cartoon has to be original (not syndicated) and submitted to this email by Friday morning (11 a.m. deadline) for publication on Sunday.
- Compensation for an original cartoon will be $250.
The first cartoon will appear in the issue of February 26th.
(See the technical/payment details below.)
All the best,
Aviva Michaelov
Art director
Opinion Pages | Sunday Review
Please send an RGB, JPG file, at 300dpi. Approximate size is 6in wide x 4in high
Your cartoon will be proof read by our copy editors, if it is selected, please be prepared to correct any typos (if any) on Friday. The final file will be due by 4 p.m.
Payment process
We use an online payment system for invoicing. If your cartoon is selected you’ll get an email with our contract and a W-9 form. Once you return the documents, you will receive an email with a login and password to our payment site. The following week the payment will be processed, and you can login and collect your payment. (If you are selected and published multiple times, you’ll only need to login and approve your payments.)

This letter from St. Louis Post-Dispatch cartoonist R.J. Matson is posted with permission
Hi Aviva,
Just to be clear, are you asking cartoonists to submit a finished cartoon each week on spec? As I read this email, the New York Times promises to pay $250.00 for a submitted cartoon only if it is selected by Times editors to be published.
I might be willing to participate in this weekly contest if the Times were to select a cartoon based on a quick rough sketch, and then commission the final cartoon from that cartoonist, and pay something closer to the going rate for illustrations in the Sunday Review.
If the Times expects to be choosing from a batch of unpublished, finished cartoons each Friday, I suggest the Times has just insulted every professional editorial cartoonist who has opened this email.
R.J. Matson
R.J. Matson
Editorial Cartoonist
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
900 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
Ted Rall penned this and, according to my source, most of the 80 cartoonists on the original NYT email are signing it
Dear Aviva-
While we appreciate and applaud your move to add more cartoons to the Sunday Review, we are concerned about your announced submission (no pun intended) policy and payment.
The current proposal has the effect of putting scores of cartoonists to work every week. But only one will have a (small) chance to be published. Like an old-fashioned “shape up” of longshoremen, this is demoralizing and will likely lead to a diminished number and quality of submissions over time. This works neither for we cartoonists nor for The Times. We suggest that you either commission cartoonists whose work you like directly, or return to the previous approach of running syndicated material which do not require additional work on the part of editorial cartoonists who are struggling mightily in the current economic environment.
Furthermore, the proposed payment is extremely low given the low chances of publication, the requirement that an artist clear his or her Friday schedule, and–most of all–the huge circulation of The New York Times, the largest newspaper in the United States. The market standard for a reprint for a newspaper of your size is $250–not for original content. An original cartoon for The Times should pay closer to $1500 to $2000. And the rate should be even higher if you maintain the New Yorker-style submission policy, to which many cartoonists have long objected and boycotted.
It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel here. There are long-established norms for submission and payment for cartoons in the newspaper industry that have functioned well and would work well for you going forward. We hope you will consider them.

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