The news about Robert Ariail

Several of you asked whether my great friend Robert Ariail would be laid off. Well, today you got your answer. The delay because Robert was mulling an offer to stay on part-time, which he decided to decline.

Read Chuck Crumbo's story about Robert here. An excerpt:

Ariail, who joined The State in 1984, said he planned to continue
his work through United Media syndicate, which serves more than 600
newspapers and magazines.

hope to find another job in editorial cartooning,” said Ariail, whose
last day at The State is Thursday. “I’m 53. It’s difficult to remake
myself, and I don’t want to.”

Among those laid off was Ariail’s boss for the past 15 years, vice president and editorial page editor Brad Warthen.

“Robert is probably one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with,” Warthen said.

One of Ariail’s strengths is his ability to needle and criticize leaders of all political persuasions, he said.

people who hate everything else on the editorial pages have to throw
him bouquets,” Warthen wrote in a forward to cartoonist’s 2001 book
“Ariail!!!,” a compilation of cartoons published in The State.

I'll post more about Robert later. I just wanted to go ahead and get this up, to give y'all a place to comment.

19 thoughts on “The news about Robert Ariail

  1. Phillip

    I didn’t always like his cartoons and occasionally he could cross a line into ethnic offensive stereotypes, but Ariail is somebody of definite ability and was an asset to the State.
    Can’t remember who said this, probably on another thread, but the quip I heard about the State being on its way to becoming a series of full-page Bi-Lo ads surrounding a sports section is right on the money.
    This latest round of layoffs has also decimated local arts coverage, will in fact virtually eliminate it. Syndicated movie reviews will be pretty much all that is left. You can get those anywhere, on the web, on TV, but only a local newspaper can really adequately cover the cultural life of the community in which it is located.
    The State does seem to be on life support, which is hard to believe, but reading this week that Seattle may soon end up with no daily paper, then it should be no surprise that Columbia is in this fix.
    Brad, I hope you’re not paying attention to all these folks crawling out of the sewer at the last minute to satisfy their vindictive urges. As you see, pretty much all of us here who have come at you from the right (on local and domestic issues) and the left (on geopolitical ones) send you our thanks for a job well done and best wishes for the next, as well as continued blogging. We’ll catch you at your next gig.

  2. Greg Flowers

    Just saw the news about Robert. If the State wants to continue they need to think about what people read it for or they will become another Columbia Star, a platform for legal advertising and articles about Shandon garden clubs. While there is certainly a place for that, there must be tears in the eyes of the Gonzales brothers.
    I was always amazed that the State kept Robert as long as they did as I thought his talents placed him among the very top editorial cartoonists in the country. I wish him all the very best.

  3. bud

    Cindi Scoppe had a nice article about Brad in today’s paper. With Arial gone also it makes you wonder if Warren Bolten and Cindi are looking at different career options. Seems like there is zero job security at The State right now. Heck, all the laid off people could probably start their own paper, perhaps in electronic format, and put The State out of it’s misery.

  4. Lee Muller

    Cartooning is made for freelancing.
    Arial should be better off on his own, marketing to all the newspapers.

  5. Brad Warthen

    By the way, I regret that quote from me. It’s accurate, and I remember hedging it just that way, but that was stupid. It’s not doing Robert justice to say he’s “probably” ONE of the most talented. I was thinking, rather pedantically, of OTHER people’s feelings (some of them I’ve worked with over the years being VERY talented) rather than adequately describing Robert. He’s in a league of his own — and I’m not talking about a girls’ baseball league.
    As I’ve written before, Robert’s one of the five best cartoonists in the country, along with Oliphant and Toles, and I forget the other two. So maybe more like top three. Or tops, period.

  6. Snead

    Robert Ariail is one of the few remaining reasons to pick up a State paper or visit its website.
    The people in charge are making decisions to cut the budget and in the process will kill this paper. I’ll be surprised if it lives to see 2010.

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    Bud–that’s great idea–why don’t all the laid off people get together and make a really great paper!
    How to eat and pay the rent might be a problem, but then again maybe not–The State is a profitable paper–for now. Keep killing the geese that lay golden eggs….

  8. Kay Packett

    Brad, I wondered about that luke-warmish praise, so I’m glad you clarified. I’m sure The State is losing a lot of very talented people, but there’s no wisdom in getting rid of either your best editorialist or your world-class cartoonist.
    I know you love your paper but it deserves to fail. If it’s counting on ever another penny from me, it will.

  9. Kay Packett

    And sure, Lee, Ariail will be better off freelancing to all the newspapers. The loss of focus on South Carolina is our loss, not his.

  10. Lee Muller

    If Robert Arial is freelancing, The State can still purchase his cartoons, just like the do with Oliphant and the opinion columns.

  11. some guy

    Brad — I don’t know what you’re at liberty to discuss here. But I am curious about what you thought on a couple things:
    1. How do you feel about cost-cutting to the point that you significantly weaken the product? Obviously, if a newspaper is losing money, then something has to go. Reporters and editors are the primary expenses (assuming salespeople are doing a legitimate job of selling ads). So, I get that. But when enough of those people are let go that it really begins to diminish the quality of product, how in the world is that supposed to help?
    How does this work in other industries? I mean, businesses close or lay people off all the time. But in cutting costs, do they — like newspapers are now doing — so directly cut into the actual producct they’re trying to sell? Does a struggling restaurant reduce its menu options (maybe it does try to focus, somewhat) or begin to use noticeably lower-quality ingredients? Is that anyway to attract more customers?
    2. Brad, do you think a day is coming any time soon when an all-online publication could make it? What I have in mind is something more thorough and news-oriented than a blog — but not as heavy as a traditional daily paper. I would think there could be lots of use of video, with the kind of video content that most local paper websites are NOT offering. More in-depth, more magazine-style. I think blogs and traditional articles — but more enterprise and less daily and sports — could be incorporated.
    Any chance? Is ad revenue for such a venture a possibility? Subscriptions? Do you hold out any hope for the talk of “micro-payments”?
    Thanks for any insights.

  12. Lee Muller

    Newspapers can’t make it online because they have no brand name. They destroyed the brand when they destroyed their credibility, by being mouthpieces for crooked demagogues.
    Educated people always knew the papers had become mere tools of politicians. The Internet made the entire stories available to more people, so everyone could see how they were being deceived by the big media employees.

  13. Jerry

    The State is raising its rates but at the same time seriously going down in quality. It sounds like a great plan for long term success.

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