Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tough times in toonville

I found out first hand this week that the last thing you want to do in a jittery economy is rock the boat with a controversial cartoon. My freelance work for one of my local papers has been "temporarily suspended" due to a controversy over this cartoon. The superintendent of schools has said that it is an "untrue picture of our district." What I suspect is that I've actually hit a nerve with this cartoon; which is usually the case when one causes such a stir. If there's even a tiny element of truth in an image, people will get pissed off. I say, good on me. I'm doing my job. I'm creating a dialogue where one might not have existed otherwise. It opens things up and allows both sides to voice their opinions. And that's all the cartoon is - an opinion. My opinion. As I've said before, I'm tired of running into teachers in Office Depot who are spending their own money to buy supplies for their students. It's shameful. Teachers and students deserve better, and I'm not going to back down from this fight.
So anyway, that's where it stands now - temporarily suspended - for doing my job. I have to say that my editor is actually taking most of the heat on this, and for that I am sorry. She is an old school journalist who knows what a quality editorial cartoon can and should do. She's not afraid, she took a chance on this cartoon, and I appreciate and admire that.
Two days prior to this controversy, I found out that due to budget cutbacks, another editor at a different paper was let go - and with him - me. Ouch. Two in one week. So I'm looking for work again. Any small local weeklies interested in picking up local content, and not afraid of a little controversy should contact me at the email above and we can discuss how I work. In the meantime, all you local guys should now be keeping your heads down. The budget axe just became a scalpel.
Gobble, gobble,


Craig Zablo said...


I applaud your courage in taking a stand. Editorial cartoonists are supposed to present opinions, and get people thinking. Bravo to you, sir!

As to the issue, since I'm not from you're area, I can't speak to the specifics, but I can tell you as an educator in Florida, we are hurting. We are losing students to other states where families are moving because of the lower pay in Florida and we are hurting because tax revenues are down. I was a 12 month school-based administrator 2 years ago. Because of cuts I was moved to 11 months [along with many others in similar positions) and then last year faced another cut. The word is to expect more in 2009.

When times are tough, everyone should be a part of the solution. If, as your cartoon suggests, that is not happening; well, shame on them.

Again, I commend you on your stance!

Ted Rall said...

Cartoons aren't supposed to be fair. They're supposed to provoke discussion, and that Ed did. Newspapers that eschew controversy are digging their own graves. Controversy sells. If I had an editorial cartoonist who didn't raise hell, I'd fire him or her.

The Other Doctor said...

Dear Ed:
Times are tough as Barbara Bush all over (and Paula Poundstone called her correctly: "a tank with eyes").
But as someone married to a former teacher/whistleblower and had her career ended due to admin wrongdoing, I feel your pain...and applaud you.
We ALL may be drawing caricatures for a five-spot on streetcorners before the dust settles.
Robert P.M. Hart