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14 September is Cartoons Day in The Hague

ECA Cartoons Day website

 

On September 14, from the Beeld & Geluid Museum in The Hague, the European Cartoon Award (ECA) will celebrate its first Cartoons Day, a day entirely dedicated to editorial cartoons, with panels, workshops and the award ceremony of the ECA 2023 and the opening of this year’s exhibition.

You can register for the event here (it's free!).

From the ECA's press release:

One day entirely dedicated to editorial cartoons, cartoonists and to whoever enjoys this form of journalism and wants to learn more about it. This is the purpose of the first edition of the ECA ‘Cartoons Day’.

From the early afternoon until the late evening, experts, activists, artists and cartoonists will sit together in the rooms of the Beeld & Geluid Museum of The Hague for workshops and panels, book presentations and talks. They will connect with their audience, draw their cartoons, and teach the subtle art of editorial cartoons.

Among the guests, will be the President of the French organisation Cartooning for Peace Patrick Lamassoure, the winner of the Inktspotprijs 2022 Jip van den Toorn, and representatives of human rights organisations and of the Dutch government.

This event was designed by the Deputy Director of the ECA, Emanuele Del Rosso, and supported by the two founding partners of this Award, the European Press Prize and Studio Europa Maastricht.

Emanuele Del Rosso, Deputy Director of the ECA: After only four years since its inception, the ECA is one of the most important awards for editorial cartoonists. We are now able, with the help of the Municipality of The Hague and the Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek, to give birth to an event that might very well be the start of something far bigger and more important. We bring editorial cartoons to The Hague and to whoever wants to enjoy them. It is important to foster the conversation on press freedom and the power of such cartoons, because they are a powerful means for change.

Gonny Willems, Director of Studio Europa Maastricht: In the first four editions of ECA, we have received submissions from all over Europe. Editorial cartoons not only hold up a mirror to Europeans and make us reflect on our own continent, but also make us take a critical look at how we treat the rest of the world. With the 'Cartoons Day', we are taking another step in the development of the ECA by offering a deeper understanding to everyone who values press freedom and is interested in the power of cartoons.

At 18.30, after the afternoon activities, the award ceremony will begin. Every year, the European Cartoon awards €10.000 for the best editorial cartoon of the past year, and assigns two runners-up and two honorable mention awards.

The winner of the ECA 2023 will be selected by a jury of five experts in the field of editorial cartoons and journalism among the 414 entries that the Award received. The judges of this year’s edition will present the five Winners on stage.

After the Award Ceremony, an exhibition showcasing the best 40 cartoons of the ECA 2023 will be inaugurated in the main hall and entrance of the museum.


Editorial: the decline of editorial cartoons (and how to stop it)

Rats_leaving_a_sinking_ship__fabio_magnasciuttiCartoon by Fabio Magnasciutti

It's been a while since the last editorial (time is a precious commodity these days), but this week I felt the need to write one. The reason: devastating news for editorial cartooning from across the pond as three Pulitzer-winning cartoonists were fired in one shocking day. Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee, Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer were all let go as the parent company of these newspapers, McClatchy, has decided it will no longer run daily opinion cartoons.

You can read all the details in this article in the Washington Post. Ohman called the event 'another brick in the wall', and I can't help but agree. The last few years have seen many troubling developments that all point in just one direction: the demise of political cartooning. A short recap:

-In 2019 the (international edition of the) New York Times decided to stop running political cartoons.

In 2021, no Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons was given.

-In 222, the Pulitzer Prize decided to change the name of the category Editorial cartoons to Illustrated Reporting and Commentary.

-Also in 2022, Gannett , a large US newspaper company with 250 titles decided that the time for a traditional editorial page (the home of the political cartoon) has come and gone

-In 2023, World Press cartoon announced it wasn't able to organize the prize, due to lack of funding.

This list probably isn't complete, but it already paints a dire picture for the profession. And although it's mostly centers on the US, I fear American cartoonists might be at the forefront of developments that will hit us all. I firmly believe public appetite for good political cartoons is as high as ever, but it seems newspaper editors, for reasons that I cannot begin to fathom, do not agree. I used to think it was mainly a money issue, but cartoonist are not that well-paid, and the list of developments detrimental to cartoonists seems to go well beyond mere cost-cutting. To add to the misery, as the number of newspaper spots continues to decline, online media isn't keen on creating new spots for cartoonists either.

Should we just sit back and watch political cartoonists die out (or, at least, those trying to make a living with it)? Or is there something we can do? I would suggest there is. So are are my thoughts, translated into points of action:

-I've said this before:  cartoonists need to join and become more active in journalistic associations and unions; this will integrate the profession more into the journalistic landscape and will make us more visible as part of the newsroom.

-We need to open up conversations with opinion editors, visual editors, editors-in-chief and publishers. Talking to the people who ultimately decide if and what kind of cartoons will be published will help us understand what their expectations are and will help us explain why political cartoons matter in a publication. These kinds of discussions can be informal, but it would be great to organize public dialogues in different countries and at international events featuring newspaper editors and cartoonists, with newspaper readers in the the audience also sharing their input.

-We need to double-down on the promotion of editorial cartoons. More events featuring cartoonists, more political cartoon exhibitions, publish more cartoon books, create awareness around cartoonists who fight oppression in countries with little or no press freedom. In short, do everything we can to remind people about the vital role of political satire in a democracy.

To stop the demise, we need to make ourselves more visible. We should do this by appealing directly to our audiences with exhibitions and such, but I think it's equally if not more important to remind newspaper editors why cartoons were part of the newspaper in the first place, and to explain to online media and their editors that cartoons have as much relevance there as they do in their offline counterparts.

Tjeerd Royaards
Cartoon Movement editor