The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication’s “Disappearing Ink” exhibit paid tribute to a dying art of editorial cartooning in the SJGC gallery on Tuesday.
With eight working cartoonists, Florida leads the nation in employed editorial cartoonists, and this among other issues was discussed during the panel, which occurred before the noon opening of the exhibit.
In a technology-driven world, newspapers have become less valued for their information, which has decreased the need for editorial cartoons. Florida’s editorial cartoonists have been watchdogs on the Florida Legislature for years, and keep their readers informed on current events involving the legislature. This job also comes with the challenge of public perception, and if their jokes are taken in the right light.
Jeff Parker, a cartoonist for the Florida Today in Melbourne, commented on being an editorial cartoonist, and what comes with it.
“We’re kind of the staff’s smart (alecks),” said Parker, when asked about his job description.
Parker also commented on dealing with public backlash, and how it affects his job as a cartoonist.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing my job unless I get letters or responses from readers,” Parker said.
Another issue that arose was the lack of diversity among editorial cartoonists around the nation, and how that affects drawings of racial issues. The New York Post recently printed a cartoon that displayed a chimpanzee being shot by a police officer. The text said, “We’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
“It’s just wrong to publish something like that,” Parker said.
Rob Smith Jr., who is a syndicated cartoonist, commented on the importance of having more editorial cartoonists that come from all walks of life.
“Those who want to do it just do it,” Smith said.
Andy Marlette, a cartoonist for the Pensacola News Journal, said that diversity is needed in this field.
“I think it’s going to happen, and it will only better this field,” Marlette said.