Illustrators articulate what a photograph cannot. Using an array of techniques and styles, illustrators evoke stories and meaning in a variety of mediums, from editorial illustration in magazines and newspapers, to comics books, to activist media. And as their tasks over the years have become less informational and more expressive, their individual voice as artists becomes all the more critical and beautiful, revealing an exciting and awe-inspiring age of illustration.
Steven Guarnaccia, Professor, Illustration Program at The New School
Yuko Shimisu, yukoart.com
Sean Murphy, seangordonmurphy.com
Molly Crabapple, mollycrabapple.com
Artist Featured in the First Section:
IN A recent issue of the beloved comic book, Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, quits his job as a journalist at the Daily Planet because the paper has gutted its news coverage. Is the outlook for newspapers really so dire that even superheroes have given up on them? Ever since 2006, when The Economist asked on its cover who had “killed the newspaper”, the industry’s pains have only intensified. Advertising has plunged. Readers have kept moving online. Revenues of newspapers continued to fall, dropping to $34 billion last year in America—only about half of what they were in 2000.
Yet things have started to look a bit less grim, particularly in America. Revenues from advertising are still falling, but those from circulation have at last started to stabilise. At some papers, such as the New York Times, circulation revenues this year are forecast to offset the decline in advertising for the first time in at least five years.
Some newspaper stocks already reflect this good news. Over the past six months the New York Times Company’s share price has risen by 37%. Those of Gannett and McClatchy, two other big publishers, have climbed by 34% and 24% respectively (although part of Gannett’s gain is attributable to its television unit, which was boosted by America’s election campaign). Hearst, a private company, has seen profits at its newspaper group rise by 25% this year and is having its best year since 2007, says Lincoln Millstein, an executive at the firm.
In May Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s firm, bought a legion of local papers from Media General. Some may see the celebrated investor’s blessing as a sign of better days ahead. In any event, it is a bet that papers with strong brands and no competitors in smaller towns will be able to charge for content and be profitable.
Fifty Years Ago, Striking Printers Shut Down Seven New York City newspapers. It Lasted for 114 Days and Killed 4 Newspapers
The Long Good-Bye: Fifty Years Ago This Month, Striking Printers Shut Down Seven New York City newspapers.The Strike Lasted for 114 Days and Killed Four of Those Newspapers. New York Was Never the Same Again « Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
New York City newspapers and journalism looked a lot different in 1960 than it does now. In that year 17,000 printers of 7 newspapers went on a strike that was to last 114 days.
The strike was a classic example of unions versus the corporate powers that be. Each side was willing to fight to the end to defend it’s turf but in fact the strike had a lot to do with new technologies. Computerized typesetting was to inevitably change the industry.The unions were trying to delay the inevitable.
When the strike was over a whole new crop of younger journalists were to emerge and change the face of journalism, not just in New York but throughout the nation. TV news was to gain new credibility. Whereas newspapers once were the primary source of news (many papers published both morning and afternoon editions), the strike helped supplant the credibility and immediacy of TV news.
How will history recall the strike? The author Tom Wolfe said, ‘This was an absolutely unnecessary strike.’
A little more than two hours after midnight on December 8, 1962, hundreds of printers walked away from their clattering Linotype machines and their rumbling presses and departed en masse from The New York Times’s block-long composing room, on West 43rd Street. Everything they deemed essential—typewriters, adding machines, a public-address system, manila folders stuffed with union documents—was packed into cardboard boxes and carted away to strike headquarters, in Greenwich Village. The printers, most of them second-generation Irish, Italian, and Jewish men in their 40s, belonged to Local No. 6 of the International Typographical Union (I.T.U.), a confederation better known by its historic nickname, “Big Six.” The Times was shut down, and within hours so was every other major newspaper in New York City.
One of the most dramatic and vexing strikes in American history was under way. The showdown of 1962-63 pitted around 17,000 newspaper employees—pressmen, photoengravers, paper handlers, reporters, elevator operators, office boys—against the owners and publishers of seven New York City newspapers, who were determined to curtail the influence of Big Six and nine other clamorous unions. Over the next 114 days, 600 million newspapers would go unprinted; newspaper-obsessed New Yorkers would be forced to navigate their metropolis without them. President John F. Kennedy would denounce the president of Big Six, Bertram “Bert” Powers, who spearheaded the strike; the Publishers Association would be shaken by the defection of its only woman, Dorothy Schiff of the New York Post; and the newsgathering abilities of local TV stations would grow in size and sophistication. The strike would put a decisive end to New York as a boisterous newspaper town, one that in the 1920s had possessed 19 dailies.
For some New York newspaper veterans, even a brief mention of the episode is enough to summon rage and melancholy. “This was an absolutely foolish strike,” says Tom Wolfe, who was a reporter at the Herald Tribune at the time. “There was a stubborn union leadership that was not going to give in, no matter what. So they managed to kill off four newspapers out of seven.” Jimmy Breslin, then a Tribune columnist, says, “Bert Powers was fucking crazy! He disliked newspapers.” If the strike hastened the decline of newspaper culture in New York, it also changed the landscape of literary journalism: the void created by the news blackout helped to launch and solidify the careers of Gay Talese, Nora Ephron, Pete Hamill, and Wolfe himself. “The freedom that came with that strike,” says Talese, who was then a 30-year-old Timesman, “made me, for the first time, know what it was like to be a writer rather than a reporter whose life was owned by the Times.”
Didn’t investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett get the memo about newspapers being dying dinosaurs?
It was one thing when he decided to buy his hometown Omaha World-Herald and related properties last year. Sure, he said he was acquiring a well-run company, but clearly civic concerns were part of the equation.
But spending $142 million to buy 63 dailies and weeklies from Media General? Has the Oracle of Omaha lost his mind?
Buffett’s rationale for buying the paper is pretty basic. “In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a statement “The many locales served by the newspapers we are acquiring fall firmly in this mold and we are delighted they have found a permanent home with Berkshire Hathaway.”
The properties Buffett is buying are medium-size and small papers in medium-size and small markets. The largest paper among his new pickups is the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which has a daily circulation of 115,000 and a Sunday circulation of 165,000. The second biggest is North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal, whose comparable numbers are 58,000 and 76,000. The one Media General paper he didn’t buy was its largest, the Tampa Tribune.
For the most part, as newspaper analyst and AJR columnist John Morton has pointed out, even in these challenging times, smaller papers such as the ones Buffett is buying have tended to fare better than their struggling counterparts in major metro markets. There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, as Morton has written, they were not as dependent on classified advertising, a craigslist casualty, as their big city brethren. Their markets are not nearly as competitive and complex, and often the smaller dailies and weeklies have closer relationships to their communities.
It didn’t hurt that, as Morton says, he got the papers for a “bargain price.”