In the 51 years we’ve been involved in the world of journalism, we’ve seen a sad abdication of the role in mainstream media in fulfilling its prime directive: Speaking truth to power to inform the citizenry.
We use that word citizenry because journalism should be all about educating citizens to enable them to act politically at all levels of what is laughably called a democracy.
The journalist is morally obligated to expose hidden and shadowy influences impacting the lives of her readers, viewers, and listeners.
And while many of the dwindling numbers of people who manage to make enough to survive by dedicating their lives to honest service, their voices are drowned out if a flood of diversions and propaganda designed to distract the public from gaining a real and complex grasp of the predators who see them simply as veins to be mined for the sake of profits and power.
Folks who drop by our humble digital abode quickly discover our love of the editorial/political cartoon, one of the most powerful and immediate of all forms of journalism.
We fell in live with editorial cartoons when we were about six or seven years old, about the time the television set first appeared in our home [and we were early adapters], Suddenly, thee was something else beside the funny pages to catch our childish attention, and the inages in the midst of the gray type of the editorial page dealt with figures appearing on that 18-inch flickering electronic hearth that now dominated the living room.
Not only were the images fascinating and often funny; they made sense of the cascade of images and words emanating from that attention-grabbing box which now dominated so much of family time.
The 1960’s brought an engaged and self-sacrificing civil rights movement, the first stirrings of contemporary feminism, and the rise of a vocal and demonstrative opposition to the growing American military violence in Vietnam.
The Sixties also gave rise to an incredible flowering of independent, community-based alternative newspapers, many of them featuring their own political cartoonists. R. Cobb [previously], one of the greatest of all the political cartoonists of the last century, worked for the Los Angeles Free Press. His drawings remain both strikingly contemporary and searingly on point as when he first drew them five decades before,
Cobb’s counterpart today is Dwayne Booth, the Mr. Fish whose creations make regular appearances here at esnl.
Booth is an immensely gifted artist, veering from almost photographic hyperrealism to childlike pastiches, all of them created freehand [An editorial cartoonist we know once complained that Mr. Fish simply Pgotoshopped photographs; he doesn’t].
The images Mr. Fish creates are vivid, immediate, and compelling, conveying messages we should all hear. He is, we think, America’s finest editorial cartoonist.
And with that, here’s a real treat, an interview of Mr. Fish by a Pulitzer-winning journalist, the former New York Times Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Hedges, conducted for Hedges’ show on RT America:
On Contact: The Power of Political Cartoons with Mr. Fish
On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the influence of editorial cartoons and the plight of the artists who make them with political cartoonist Dwayne Booth, also known as Mr. Fish. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil explores what we have done to dissident artists throughout American history.