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Shortsighted Observer found wanting

February 22, 2010 in Comment

Bloghorn_cartoonists ©http://thebloghorn.org for the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation http://www.procartoonists.org
The UK’s Observer newspaper relaunched with a “new look” yesterday, and to ensure publicity it grabbed the headlines with a story about the alleged workplace bullying of the Prime Minister. But the revamp also brought with it another controversy: it ditched cartoons.

Gone are the funny and colourful spot cartoons by Robert Thompson, which were once scattered throughout the paper. Gone too is Andy Riley‘s funny strip Roasted, which had been poking fun at the foibles of modern life in the Observer Magazine since 2002.

In addition to editorial survivor Chris Riddell, the paper will each week feature a cartoon drawn for another newspaper from somewhere else in the world. Bloghorn suspects this art will be sourced from an agency which means lower costs for the impoverished newspaper. We think it’s both cheaper and cheerless.

Bloghorn believes this is not good news for British cartoonists, or the readership of The Observer.

People like a laugh, it’s a given, particularly for a Sunday title published on a day that’s supposed to be about putting your feet up and forgetting the woes of the week for a few moments.

Dropping cartoons is undoubtedly a quick cost-cutting measure for a newspaper that was recently staring closure in the face. But Bloghorn believes it is confused thinking.

Other newspapers understand the power of cartoons: The Telegraph knows it needs Matt and The Daily Mail made sure they got a replacement sharpish when Ken Mahood retired recently.

Why has the Observer been so short-sighted? Please dive in and tell us in the comments below.