Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Pulitzer-worthy then, termination-worthy now.

      Freelancing is nothing new in journalism.  A publication wants to include many more voices than the largest staff can contain. But with the gig economy, piecework is becoming more the norm than the exception.
     Being on a staff, however,  offers protection beyond insurance and a salary. It is an institutional commitment, vital when controversy starts chopping the waters, as is inevitable when a journalist does what he or she is supposed to do: agitate the public.
     Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder was let go from his New Brunswick, Canada, publishing company this week, after he tweeted this cartoon of Donald Trump regarding the bodies of the father and daughter who drowned in Rio Grande while trying to cross into Texas and saying "Do you mind if I play through?"
     While there is a question whether he was let go because of this cartoon—Brunswick News, the Canadian company, denies it—the timing is suspicious. Media companies, particularly right wingers, have a way of purging divergent thought, lest it scorch the eyes of their readers and viewers.
     Here's another irony. Thirty years ago, Sun-Times cartoonist Jack Higgins drew almost the exact same cartoon, mocking vice president candidate Dan Quayle for hiding out from the Vietnam War in the Indiana National Guard. The paper didn't fire Higgins; rather, it submitted the drawing for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning. It won.

15 comments:

  1. Great column. Didn't know (or forgot) about the Jack Higgins cartoon. Thanks for writing this.

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  2. de Adder's cartoon is a gross lie. Donald Trump politely asking to run roughshod over someone is a laughable concept. Just ask the leader of Montenegro.

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    1. Doubtful. I don't think he copied Jack's cartoon.

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  4. Just wondering if Higgins' cartoon would have won the 1969 Pulitzer in the very middle of the controversy rather than long after the war was over. I have to feel a little for Dan Quayle, who is in the same age group as I am, faced with a choice of two evils. Those who stayed home no doubt feel a little guilty about doing so, whereas many of us who went over there have long regretted our complicity in the devastation wreaked on Vietnam and her people. I really hate it when I'm told, "Thank you for your service." It's nothing...really.

    john

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    1. john — I’ve heard that from a lot of veterans (not liking when someone says “thank you for your service”). It still surprises me. It’s obviously a sincere appreciation, but I stopped using the phrase a few years ago.

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    2. John - I don't mind that Quayle avoided Vietnam in and of itself. I mind that he avoided it while his father ran a chain of newspapers that relentlessly cheered on the war. I mind that he took a job with that chain and that he went on to become a right-wing politician. If you're going to benefit from war hawkishness, at least don't be a chickenhawk.

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  5. What's also ironic about Higgins is he took a hard-right turn and drew a lot of cartoons (many of them inane IMO) attacking Democrats. I'm not suggesting that there's a connection between that and him keeping his job, but it is a funny turn of events.

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    1. Yeah, poor Jack did calcify there toward the end of his career. I'm lucky to have known him as a younger man. He was a good, solid guy and very skilled.

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  6. I think I read he was a contract employee, not on the newspaper's staff.

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    1. Ah, I see. I thought you were illustrating that even being on staff was no assurance of security.

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  7. After listening to a 12-year-old immigrant girl on the news talking about being taken from her aunt and imprioned, hungry, scared, and unwashed, a secret Facebook group consisting of current and former Border Patrol agents full of gleeful hatred and depravity, reports of migrant women in cages told to drink out of toilets, this editorial cartoon is right on the money.

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  8. This wouldn't have happened if Bill Mauldin were alive. He'd be ripping Agent Orange a new posterior orifice every few days, and all the other cartoonists would be following suit and scrambling to keep up.

    I met the man during my very brief time at "Field Enterprises" (Sun-Times, Daily News, encyclopedias, etc. etc), which is how I happen to have a signed reproduction of his 1963 "Crying Lincoln"--it's somewhere in this pack-rat's house, and I hope to find it someday.

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