Media Monday part Tuesday

Mar 17, 2015

Yesterday, I shared that newspapers didn't understand comic strips. I should be more specific, I should say editors, managers and publishers of newspapers don't understand...newspapers, their customers or their market....or really not much of anything. 

Case in point...the strip Garfield by Jim Davis was launched in June 1978 in only 41 American newspapers. The Chicago Sun-Times was one of those 41 papers. Even though I've worked at newspapers and syndicates, both as a staffer and freelancer....I really don't understand the decision making process that goes through an editor's brain when he or she decides to subscribe to a certain comic strip.

Whatever that decision is ....the editor should live with their decision.... for several reasons. Your newspaper is going to be spending hundreds, thousands and eventually tens of thousands of dollars publishing that certain comic strip.(of course depending on circulation) The word spending also means INVESTING...investing money to the syndicate...and investing building time with this strip in your readers time 'n' lives. You are building a relationship with your customers with this comic strip. 

If the editor of the newspaper changes their mind and drops the strip- they're playin' a little bait 'n' switch with their loyal customers. The editor risks upsetting loyal customers and having to deal with community heat. SO- if you are going to drop a strip ...make sure it's going to be worth the headache. 

Back to the Chicago Sun-Times investing the new comic strip Garfield with their readers. For a reason, I'll never understand they decided to drop Garfield just months after their readers were enjoying getting to know the furry little guy. Immediately after the dropping of Garfield, the Sun-Times received about 1300 angry letters from readers demanding that Garfield be reinstated. 

A perfect example of a newspaper not understanding comic strips, their readers or the market. The Sun-Times was in shell-shock after receiving that many angry responses and quickly did reinstate Garfield. Jim Davis'  syndicate used that news of the 1300 angry readers that proved to new newspaper editors how popular Garfield was.

That was the best sales tool for any syndicate salesman....ever. The salesman just had to share the news of the 1300 and ask, Do you want a piece of that intense reader loyalty or should I go to the other newspaper in town...? Garfield is now in over 2100 newspapers, read by 200 million people. Garfield is now in the Guinness Book of World Records as The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World.

I wonder if Davis ever called up that Chicago Sun-Times editor to thank him for dropping Garfield.

-Milt Priggee

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