Editorial cartoonists were quick to respond to a column last week by a Florida Times-Union editor who had replaced political cartoons on the opinion page with "uplifting photos." The long-time Jacksonville op-ed editor complained he couldn't find "balanced cartoons," moaning he had trouble locating cartoonists that didn't offend readers, or offered a conservative viewpoint. "One complication is that the Times-Union does not have a staff cartoonist, so we have little control," Mike Clark wrote.
Cartoonists on AAEC listserv didn't buy the excuse.
Ted Rall posted, "I love how he complains that he doesn't have a staff editorial cartoonist. If only there were a solution to that problem! Like, say, hiring one? Also, I'm completely mystified by his inability to find ideological balance. I see pro-Trump cartoons every day."
"Ed Hall and Mike Lester live there for pete's sake…" retorted Floridian Jeff Parker. "Could you find a better 'balance' of ideology?"
"And people ask me why I don't work for my own hometown's newspaper.*sigh*" replied Ed Hall.
"Let me see if I understand," wrote another cartoonist. "This editor can't find a balance of cartoon opinion, even though there is a great variety of cartoon opinion readily available… His solution is to run photos that are uplifting and inspirational… He invites readers to weigh in… 100% of respondents argue emphatically that he should keep the cartoons… He decides to keep the photos… Got it. Good call. Why are newspapers failing?"
"On the other hand," added Rall, "I give him credit for asking readers their opinion. And I give his readers even more credit for being into cartoons."
"That editor is a disgrace. Knows nothing about the purpose of an editorial cartoon or the role of an editor," wrote Ann Telnaes, current president of the AAEC.
In a blistering column Sunday, media reporter Mike Peterson poked at the irony of Clark's complaint, pointing out the Florida Times-Union had a conservative staff cartoonist —Ed Gamble— until the newspaper laid him off in 2010.
"Therefore, I would suggest that his contention ... is proof of my contention that editors don't understand cartoons."
"They just don't get it, do they?"