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March 2020

Cartoon Competition: Journalism Without Fear of Favour

Competion_image_Antonio Rodriguez Garcia_blogImage by Antonio Rodríguez,

The World Press Freedom Conference (WPFC) will take place on 22-24 April 2020 at the World Forum in The Hague, a city known for its role in international peace and justice. The organization urges those active in the field of press freedom to participate. The WPFC will also feature the first-ever World Press Freedom Festival. At least 1,500 participants from all over the world are expected, including a number of high-profile journalists.

Cartoon Movement and Cartooning for Peace invite cartoonists from around the globe, established artists but also new talent, to send in their work for an international cartoon competition and exhibition at the World Press Freedom Conference.

The theme of the competition is journalism without fear or favour. In many countries the independence and freedom of media is under attack. Journalists must be able to do their work without fear of or favour from any particular person, opinion, ideology, or other actors.

About the theme

Media organizations, journalists, people who use media like you and me: we are all confronted with filters every day. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some countries apply filters by censoring, by forbidding media from publishing on certain topics and by locking up journalists. Companies sometimes also create filters to influence the media. They do this, for example, by deciding not to advertise in a newspaper anymore because of negative reporting about that company. As a result, journalists cannot do their work properly, and we as an audience no longer get to know the full story.

Filters are also caused by a lack of diversity in the media. For example, the number of women we see on TV is still lagging behind the number of men. Media users also encounter filters. Think of algorithms on social media, and how they create your own news bubble. The challenge is to be critical, to fight filters, to break them. In this way we all contribute to a free and independent press. In this way we all contribute to ‘Journalism without Fear or Favour’.

Freedom of expression is a key human right. It is a prerequisite for a well-functioning democracy where people can live freely. Journalists play an important role in this regard, as an independent source of information and watchdog. They must be able to do their work independently and in safety. Unfortunately, this cannot be taken for granted. The independence of the media is under pressure. Even now, journalists are being intimidated, threatened and murdered, including in Europe.


Send in your work to [email protected]

Rules of Participation:
1. This competition is open to all cartoonists from all over the world. Cartoonists can send in work that is unpublished, or work that has been published before.
2. The cartoons should reflect the theme 'Journalism without fear or favour'.
3. Cartoons should not be about a particular country, person or religion. Cartoons that focus on a certain country, person or religion will be considered ineligible.
4. Cartoon can be black and white or in color, and can be created using any technique.
5. Cartoons must be sent in via email to [email protected].
6. Cartoon size must be sent in high resolution, minimum width/heigth of 2500 pixels at 300dpi, JPG or PNG format.
7. Each cartoonist can send in a maximum of three works.
8. Participants must include the following in their submission:
a) Full name & address.
b) Email & telephone number.
c) A short bio (max. 250 words).
9. The deadline of the competition is March 1, 2020, 23:59 GMT.

1. A jury will convene in March 2020 to select the cartoons for the exhibition and to determine the winner.
2. One winner will be selected. The winner will be invited to The Hague to make a visual report in cartoons of the conference. Travel and accommodation will be covered, as well as a daily fee for drawing during the conference.
3. Selected works will be included in the exhibition that will be on display for the duration of the conference. Selected artists will receive a small fee for the inclusion of their work.
4. The winners and the selected works will be announced in March.

1. Copyright of the submitted cartoons will remain with the artist.
2. Submitted cartoons may be used (non-exclusively) by the competition organization and affiliated organizations for the exhibition and for promotional purposes, in print and online.

This competition is organized by Cartoon Movement in partnership with Cartooning for Peace.

Pay Per Laugh: Il Manifesto and the "Visibility" Currency

Homo_social_medialis__emanuele_del_rossoText and illustration by Emanuele Del Rosso

Have you ever been paid in visibility?

Visibility is an odd currency, whose value increased ten-fold when the internet era kicked in - say, the beginning of the 2000s. If my visibility liquidity was converted in euros, I'd be a millionaire.

What is this visibility retribution? It happens when a professional in some field, a political cartoonist, for example, is published without being paid actual cash with the stated or unstated promise of future payments, and/or with the stated or unstated guarantee the visibility granted by this or that publication will help this professional in her/his career.

Simply put, it's unpaid labor.

When visibility payments become a habit

But what happens, really, when visibility becomes the most used currency? Let's take an example among many, but really poignant because we are talking about a publication that has been around since 1969.

Il Manifesto, an Italian newspaper distributed - digitally and in print - in around 10 thousand copies a day. Il Manifesto spun from the most left-wing area of the PCI, the Italian Communist Party and, over the last five decades, has always championed fair work conditions, freedom of expression and democracy.

Obviously, satire plays a big role in this newspaper. Vauro's illustrations were published on page one until 2012 and, after him, another wonderful editorial cartoonist, Mauro Biani, took over.

Then, in the fall of 2019, Biani left.

At that point, someone at Il Manifesto had an interesting idea. Why not opening a cartoonist contest to find Biani's inheritor? Cartoonists could send their works, being told up front they won't be paid for that, but being promised the possibility of becoming the new in-house cartoonist.

This, in September 2019. I am part of a number of cartoonists groups and, obviously, the contest sparked a lot of interest. Many of my colleagues decided to participate and started sending their works.

What happened then is explained in a note dated 30 September. Il Manifesto had been receiving so many brilliant cartoons they decided to publish the best ones in the "community" pages of the newspaper, to - wait for it - show them to all the readers. So, simply put, cartoons wouldn't be paid, not now, but in the end they would... kind-of-be paid, in visibility.

Since then, visibility has been the currency. Biani's successor? No sign of this mysterious cartoonist. And after all, why stopping this bevy of illustrations, if cartoonist seems to be content with the visibility retribution?

Pay per laugh

I never sent a single cartoon to Il Manifesto. I admit I was tempted by the idea of being published by them, but I couldn't bring myself to accept this contest of theirs and maybe, for once, I could see through their good intent and foresee what would have happened.

Publishing editorial cartoons for free is a disgrace for the profession of the editorial cartoonist. Cartoons can be donated - I did it many times - but the promise of glory can't replace real retribution, which is what distinguishes a nice hobby from an important profession.

If editorial cartoons are not paid, if the profession of the editorial cartoonist is not recognized, then the value of a satirical work is diminished. Moreover, the safety of the author is at stake, because he won't be protected by any union or real employer - and we saw cartoonists are targeted as much as journalists are.

One could even argue that because Il Manifesto doesn’t pay for these illustrations, it also doesn’t really believe in what they express. Otherwise, they would be retributed and recognized as employees.

Cartoonists are, in the end, journalists, and Il Manifesto, with its 1,555,748.37€ of public funding in 2018, pays - I hope! - their journalists. Newspapers are expensive machines, that's true, and this newspaper saw rocky moments, being short of money, touching bankruptcy in 2012. But this can't justify this lack of professional ethics.

They should stop this silly contest and pick a cartoonist, or pick none and live without satire. They should do that because, at some point, an editorial cartoonist might decide to draw an illustration about them. For free, of course.

Emanuele Del Rosso is an Italian communication specialist and political cartoonist.

Cartoon Controversies

It has been a week full of controversies here at Cartoon Movement. We are used to them, as cartoons always tend to offend someone, and creating provoking images is a very effective way to make people think.

As editor of Cartoon Movement, I do not always agree with the visual choices of cartoonists. However, our policy is to provide a free and open platform for all the cartoonists who have been accepted in our community. If an image is felt to be hateful or insulting, we’d rather have a frank and open discussion about it instead of censoring the image and thereby avoiding any discussion.

The Chinese Flag


This cartoon by Danish cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen, published in the Jyllands-Posten and also on our website stirred up quite a lot of international outrage. Chinese people and government were not happy their flag was the object of satire. The Danish government, however, defended their tradition of freedom speech. We also feel this cartoon is perfectly acceptable under freedom of speech. Flags are used frequently by editorial cartoonists because they are a very recognizable visual element. This is also illustrated by the fact that Niels was certainly not the only cartoonist to employ the Chinese flag as a central element in doing a cartoon about the Coronavirus (see here, here and here).

And if cartoonists weren’t allowed to mock flags anymore, there’d be a lot less cartoons. We even have a cartoon collection dedicated to flags.


Mocking flags might be a very clear-cut case for us, mocking Israel presents more challenges. We strongly believe the state of Israel and its policies should be open to scrutiny and scathing satire by cartoonists, but we also feel, given the fact that antisemitism is still very much present and widespread in the modern world, there are special considerations to be made.

At the end of last week, a cartoon by Portuguese cartoonist Vasco Gargalo published by Portuguese newspaper Sabado and also uploaded to Cartoon Movement, became the object of outrage and a campaign demanding the firing of the cartoonist and a public apology.


The image uses the harshest analogy possible to condemn Netanyahu’s policy vis-à-vis Palestine. Since the controversy arose, Vasco has faced threats and harassment on an almost daily basis. Defending the image, Vasco says he considers it part of his job ‘to instigate reflection trough controversy.’

Cartoon Movement is based in the Netherlands, where using Holocaust-comparisons as satire is very much frowned upon. We also want to state that this particular image has not, and would not have been, published on our homepage (the curated part of our website). However, instead of calling for the proverbial tarring and feathering of a cartoonist, we do feel it would be more helpful to have a constructive discussion about how we can criticize the politics of Israel without veering into the realm of (what many feel to be) antisemitism. Developing an international visual language that allows cartoonists to mock Israel without the need for tropes and stereotypes that are known to be controversial would be beneficial for all, but we'd need a constructive debate to get there, not blind rage.


The_world_health_organization_took_measures___halit_kurtulmus_aytosluThe last and most recent controversy was very unexpected. Halit Kurtulmus uploaded a cartoon commenting on the spread of the coronavirus, based on this famous photo from the Vietnam war. We will link to a screenshot of the cartoon here, as the cartoonist has chosen to remove it from the website himself, and publishing it again here might lead to more threats aimed at him.

Halit chose to base his cartoon on the photo because of the striking composition and expression of the characters. Cartoonists often base their work on famous visuals such as photos or painting, as this helps increase the impact of their work. In this case, the photo chosen, combined with the topic of the cartoon, lead to a stream of angry comments on our website and our Facebook page. Many Vietnamese people felt their country was being insulted, and were outraged.

This instance is an example of the challenges cartoonists face in a globalized world. When your work is seen by a global audience, it is very difficult to predict who will be offended by what. The challenge of our times is that offended parties often resort to threats, profanity or drastic measures (fire the cartoonist!). We would all benefit more from a frank but civil discussion. We'll continue to welcome debate, as I am pretty sure this will not be the last controversy at Cartoon Movement.

Tjeerd Royaards, Editor-in-Chief