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Creating a draw

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Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:47 am

You may have heard: The newspaper industry is going through some changes.

These changes impact everyone from the editors and publishers, all the way down to us lowly cartoonists. 

And it's not just at the big market papers that are having to rethink their approach to publishing — it's happening at the little guys as well.

A changing reader climate, new approaches to advertising and a silly fad called the internet have all impacted the way newspapers are evolving … and how they're dealing with everyday costs, including the comics page.

Over the past few years, many papers have cut staff, even long-time, award-winning editorial cartoonists who created a strong reader draw (no pun intended). Many syndicated strips have been dropped as well, much to the disappointment of subscribers (as well as this comic page fan).

I'm proud to say that the New-Sentinel's comic page has remained relatively unscathed for quite some time, and though the possibility of dropping comics always exists, we're more apt to come up with new ways of retaining — and adding — content that readers want.

Recently, a kerfuffle was created when The Philadelphia Daily News and The Inquirer of the same city cut a handful of comics and raised the price of their papers. They charged their readers more for less product. 

When it comes to the comics (and really all content), the question should be “How can we give the readers more of what they want without it costing us more?”

Some papers have taken to placing ads on their comics pages. Some comic purists object to this tactic and canceled their subscription to the offending papers. 

Some papers have taken to telling human interest stories in comic strip form — and have won increased readership, audience approval and awards for their efforts.

Some papers have dropped their comics altogether, preferring not to even tackle the issue (personally, that would not win my subscription dollars).

There are solutions to all of this. It will take some ingenuity and some adapting by the papers and the readers alike, but the end product will definitely be more enticing, more entertaining and more creative.

Besides, there is enough bad news in the world. We shouldn't add to it by taking away a daily source of laughter.