As you might guess I am torn. On the one hand I understand their reasoning. They did the same thing to my comic strip Prickly City a few years back in a series on Ted Kennedy. This was before I was on staff here. So this is not a new policy aimed squarely at liberal comic strips as has been suggested.
On the other hand, it ticked me off when it happened to me. As a creator you never want your work stiflied. You know that.
“Editors, of course, have the right not to run a cartoon,” writes Michael Cavna. “But to that I would append: Cartoonists who editorialize, of course, have the responsibility not to be fair.” He reports that Newsday and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also chose not to run this week’s “Doonesbury” with excerpts from Joe McGinniss’s book about Sarah Palin. || Creative Loafing: The Journal-Constitution cites “strong political content” as its reason for killing the strips.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution public editor Shawn McIntosh sent this note after I inquired about this week’s “Doonesbury” strips:
We did opt not to run the series of strips, and here is what our note to readers says: “Because of the strong partisan content based on an unpublished book about Sarah Palin, we are rerunning “Doonesbury” strips from September 2009. To see this week’s strips, click on (link.)”
When I have gotten questions from readers, here is what I have been explaining:
Mr. Trudeau has based this series of comic strips on an as-yet unpublished book by author Joe McGinnis about Sarah Palin. Since the book is not yet published, Ms. Palin has not had an opportunity to comment publicly on the content included in the book and picked up in the cartoons. Nor has the book yet been reviewed for accuracy. In essence, the cartoons would be reporting news, not commenting on news that is already public. When news is initially reported, newspapers have an especially strong interest in balance and fairness. I imagine the book may make news that will be reported on our news pages, along with Ms. Palin’s response, but at this point our editors did not believe making untested allegations in the comics was the appropriate way to introduce the content of this book.
While I understand that you may disagree with the newspaper’s decision to edit this series of comic strips, I hope you understand that it is the newspaper’s responsibility to make editing decisions on a daily basis and the editors do not make those decisions lightly. We appreciate hearing from you as we strongly consider readers’ views.