The New York Times Has Dropped All Editorial Cartoons

The New York Times will will no longer publish editorial cartoons, effective July 1. The first to break the news was veteran cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, who issued a lengthy statement about the policy change and expressed frustration and disappointment with the move. Cartoonists and subscribers who have reached out to the Times to express their disappointment were given brief statements that basically amounted to "we are sorry to hear you're disappointed." The Times had removed editorial cartoons from its domestic edition already and characterizes the move as bringing the international edition into line with the U.S. run -- but given that the decision comes on the heels of a controversy, it feels to readers and cartoonists like the Times is making the decision at least in part due to bad press.

In late April, the Times severed ties with one of its cartoon syndicates after they published a cartoon in their international edition that prompted a complaint to management from the Anti-Defamation League. In the cartoon, per The Beat, U.S. President Donald Trump was "wearing a yarmulke and being led by a dachshund with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wore a Star of David dog collar. The second antisemitic cartoon showed Netanyahu wearing sunglasses, descending a mountain while holding a selfie stick and a stone tablet marked with the Jewish star." Following this event, the paper's initial response was to call it an "error in judgment" and blame a faulty process rather than actually apologizing, which of course only made things worse.

"In 20-plus years of delivering a twice-weekly cartoon for the International Herald Tribune first, and then The New York Times, and after receiving three OPC awards in that category, I thought the case for political cartoons had been made (in a newspaper that was notoriously reluctant to the form in past history)," Patrick Chappatte's statement says in part. "But something happened. In April 2019, a Netanyahu caricature from syndication reprinted in the international editions triggered widespread outrage, a Times apology and the termination of syndicated cartoons. Last week, my employers told me they’ll be ending in-house political cartoons as well by July. I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work undone by a single cartoon – not even mine – that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world."

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The Times has issued only a brief official statement, via tweet.

“We’re very grateful for and proud of the work Patrick Chappatte and Heng Kim Song have done for the international edition fo the New York Times, which circulates overseas; however, for well over a year we have been considering bringing that edition into line with the domestic paper by ending daily editorial cartoons and will do so beginning July 1,” the statement says. It promises a continued commitment to “visual journalism,” and points to last year’s Pulitzer-winning series by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan that detailed the story of a Syrian refugee family.

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