Careers in editorial cartooning have nosedived over the years, as one newspaper after another eliminated their staff positions, fretting about weak economies or strong opinion or both. The South Carolina Spartanburg Herald-Journal is bucking this trend, however, by hiring Robert Ariail to produce five cartoons a week for their opinion pages. Ariail was the cartoonist at the Columbia State for almost 25 years, and was one of the victims of the recent rash of lay-offs and cutbacks throughout the newspaper industry. Since then, he's been freelancing and producing editorial cartoons for United Features Syndicate. The Charlotte Observer began subscribing to Ariail's cartoons a couple of weeks ago, and we're looking forward to running even more of his national and South Carolina cartoons in the months to come.
Here's a link to Robert Ariail's website.
And here's the text of the Herald-Journal story announcing Ariail's hiring:
Editorial cartoonist Robert Ariail joins Herald-Journal
By Luke Connell
Veteran editorial cartoonist Robert Ariail is now penning his work under the Herald-Journal banner.
Ariail's cartoons on global, national and state issues are featured in more than 600 publications across the country, and his first cartoon drawn specifically for the Herald-Journal appears on today's Opinion page.
Ariail worked as The State newspaper's editorial cartoonist from 1984 until March 2009, when he was laid off during a round of personnel cuts. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize — in 1995 and again in 2000 — and has won numerous other awards for his work, including five Green Eyeshade Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a National Headliner Award in 1990, and the Overseas Press Club's Thomas Nast Award in 1997. In 2009, he became the first American to win the United Nations Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award.
After leaving The State, Ariail kept drawing, distributing his syndicated cartoons through United Media. Still, he wanted to work with a newspaper.
“Of course, South Carolina is a gold mine for cartooning,” Ariail said. “It's one of the reasons I didn't want to leave the state, and a reason I'm so excited about working with the Herald-Journal.”
The recession and a changing job market for journalists haven't yielded many job openings for cartoonists in recent years, and many newspapers have eliminated the positions entirely.
“I think the Herald-Journal is showing a lot of faith in the future of newspapers and of editorial cartooning,” Ariail said.