Joel Pett is Professional-In-Residence; on racial panel

Last Week Lexington Herald-Leader editorial Joel Pett spent a week in his hometown of Bloomington Indiana visiting Indiana University’s jorunalism program for a week of “Professional-In-Residence.” He spoke/lectured in four journalism classes and in one class explained that the point of an editorial cartoon is not to be funny and why the cartoonist-editor relationship can be difficult at times.

One of the problems with editors is that they’re trained to approach news objectively, Pett explained. That’s not how political cartoonists operate and can cause some friction. Also, editors approach things too logically, he said. Pett made this point by showing a cartoon, by Birmingham News cartoonist Scott Stantis, that portrayed former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in heaven, confronted by a sea of aborted fetuses. The fetuses asked Blackmun, who wrote the Roe v. Wade decision, “What trimester were you?”

Pett said an editor would probably look at that cartoon and ask why Blackmun was in heaven if abortion was a bad thing, missing the point entirely.

“Cartoons don’t have to make sense,” Pett said. “They lose their power if you start looking at them that way.”

Today, Joel is one of the panalists on a University of Kentucky College of Law discusion on “When is race a laughing matter.”