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Newspaper Eliminates Editorial Cartoons After Readers Object to Mike Luckovich Commentary

From an upset newspaper reader:

To The Daily Sun,

I am appalled at the cartoon depicting an active shooter drill, and cannot believe your publication would publish it. This type of message is stereotyping our black youth, and most definitely is NOT furthering the cause of any organization or entity working against racism. Further, the disgraceful slam against the hardworking men and women of the law enforcement community is unforgivable.

Shame on the artist, shame on the decision to publish this in The Laconia Daily Sun.

Below is the “appalling” cartoon by Mike Luckovich.

Another found it a “hateful piece of trash”:

First, I find this to be classic liberal stereotyping of a person of color in that they would be thinking as one monolithic block and is very demeaning. Second, it makes light of the very real horrors of tragic school shootings. Lastly, it attacks our LOCAL rank and file law enforcement people that, last time I checked, are very well respected in our area and have always held themselves in an exemplary fashion.

I call on ALL local leaders and officials to roundly and forcibly condemn this cartoon and ask The Laconia Daily Sun for an apology for publishing this dangerous and hateful piece of trash.

The newspaper sat up and took notice:

We received an earful on Thursday from people who were offended by our publication of the editorial cartoon from Mike Luckovich, a nationally syndicated columnist based at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…

The nature of political cartoons is such that they are very much in the eye of the beholder, and are designed to provoke thought and emotion. This cartoon did that – and then some. As one newsroom wag said, “This cartoon seemed to offer a lot to hate.”

Among those who contacted us to voice their disgust were parents, teachers and police officers, and the most common reaction was that the cartoon painted with a brush so broad that it unfairly impugned all police officers…

Many readers also let us know that they felt the cartoon could send the wrong message – that kids can’t trust police when they need help…

So The Laconia Daily Sun made a decision:

We’ve received complaints about cartoons before, though not to this extent, and the public’s response to this one has rekindled a conversation that has been going at The Daily Sun for more than a year: the value of running such cartoons at all…

Not everything we run will be positive, and that’s just the nature of our business. But when cartoons like this one and others serve mostly to inflame an already polarized public discourse, we conclude they have reached the point of diminishing return and no longer serve the engaging purpose they once did…

…we’ll use the space previously reserved for editorial cartoons for something else [emphasis added].

 

August 28 Update
Idaho Paper Apologizes For Running Mike Luckovich Cartoon

In Idaho, where Mike has roots…

The cartoon was sketched by liberal cartoonist Mike Luckovich — a Northwest native born in Seattle, who attended Boise’s Bishop Kelly High School and graduated from the University of Washington — in response to Sunday’s shooting of young father Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

The Lewiston Tribune also got reaction by publishing the cartoon:

On Wednesday morning a firestorm of criticism was unleashed against the Lewiston Tribune on social media and beyond.

Emails, phone calls and more than four dozen subscription cancellations lit up our front office.

At the end of Wednesday’s barrage of posts, phone calls and emails, I asked as many of our 120 employees I could find to gather for a visit.

Our front office was shaken. So was I.

Editor and Publisher Nathan Alford offered a front page apology:

Genuinely listening to impassioned voices tear at the fabric of oversight by our community newspaper was and still is an emotional experience.

Nonetheless, we take responsibility for what an Idaho State Police officer I spoke with Wednesday properly summed up as a “shock to the conscience.”

I visited with nearly every police chief, sheriff and a handful of officers on Thursday.

My message: We regret Wednesday’s Opinion page cartoon. We made a judgment error and failed to anticipate the impact the cartoon would have locally, and the negative reaction it would elicit.

The Lewis-Clark Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement Thursday
regarding the controversial cartoon published in The Lewiston Tribune.

Community Comments

#1 Mike Corrado
August/28/2020
@ 2:18 pm

Seems like a coordinated attack. Same two messages both places: 1. To suppose that most blacks fear or resent what has been happening at the hands of the police is to stereotype blacks. 2. This cartoon maligns all good police officers. We’re used to hearing the second complaint, but the first is new and seems to come straight out of fantasy land. I think this is called “gaslighting.”

#2 Brian Fairrington
August/28/2020
@ 4:08 pm

One again an editor blaming the cartoon/cartoonists for content that the editor actively and consciously decided to print…so strange.

#3 Chris Mayfield
August/28/2020
@ 7:07 pm

It reminds me of a quote from Inherit the Wind : “It’s the job of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Sadly, these newspapers seem to be more eager to make their customers happy with the content they publish than to actually challenge them to think about the controversial issues of our time.

#4 Stan Woodard
August/28/2020
@ 8:04 pm

As a Black man in America, I fully support Mike Luckovich’s opinion cartoon. At anytime I would not be surprised if a police officer acted in a way detrimental to me – more than a few times I’ve been treated in ways that I felt unfair by police including when White friends were engaged in the same activity. In a number of cases if those White friends hadn’t spoken up for me the outcomes may have been different. If officers are offended by the cartoon, they would do well to consider how Luckovich arrived at his opinion. The image of law enforcement officers is stained by their colleagues, not by Mike Luckovich. Please be careful as you kowtow to coordinated campaigns intended to silence opinions, as you may find yourself eliminating the editorial pages altogether.

#5 Gwenola D Grier
August/28/2020
@ 8:29 pm

Freedom of Speech. I love Mr. Luckovich. Who is behind this witch hunt? I would be most happy when someone stops this mess and get back to real journalism

#6 Bob Simkins
August/28/2020
@ 9:22 pm

Luckovich always hits the nail on the head.

#7 Kip Williams
August/28/2020
@ 9:57 pm

The ones reacting as if the kid is a representational monolith are the ones writing in, and they’re projecting their perception onto the newspaper–which, of course, rolls over submissively and promises never to express another horrid old opinion.

#8 Jordan Smith
August/29/2020
@ 6:49 am

Mike Luckovich held up a mirror and no one likes what they saw. The fact that this hit so hard should be an indication that this conversation really needs to happen.

I’ve seen people like this, who think police officers are always in the right. Sadly they don’t realize police officers are humans, capable of horrible and criminal acts, same as the rest of us. Any good police officer should understand what this cartoon is trying to say. Any police officer offended by this cartoon, should consider the amount of families grieving loved ones who have been wronged by police, and have not received justice. I have too many friends scared to call police, because they have been wronged by the people entrusted with enforcing our laws. As long as we continue to ignore racist and violent police officers and internal corruption, as long as laws only apply to those who enforce them after expensive, lengthy battles, and as long as we continue treating citizen lives like they’re expendable, this will continue on.

#9 Stephen Harvey
August/29/2020
@ 11:05 am

So hypocrites, where’s the outrage at unarmed people of color getting shot and killed by police over and over, month after month, year after year? The root problem is the police unions that make bad cops untouchable. Be outraged about that.

#10 Clay Jones
August/29/2020
@ 1:33 pm

Republicans just spent an entire convention telling us a Joe Biden administration will ban “free thinking,” yet here the hypocrites are screaming at a newspaper for a message they don’t want to see.

These days, every newspaper folds and capitulates.

#11 Robert M. Kelly
August/29/2020
@ 1:52 pm

Good responses here. I only add that I don’t think the Fraternal Order of Police exercised critical reading skills. That’s not a crime, but…..they clearly took the gist of the cartoon as disparaging the Active Shooter programs and the professionals conducting those programs. But the cartoon was not about that at all. The FOP bears looking into. That’s not a suggestion of a conspiracy, but I just mean that we should be aware of where they’re coming from. They used the word “propaganda” twice in their letter to describe an editorial opinion, say such opinions should have “no place in any media source” and have this to say on their WEB SITE: “During the 1960s the FOP opposed the creation of police review boards, spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy, at one point describing them as a “sinister movement against law enforcement”. The FOP also clashed with the ACLU on the issue of police brutality, seeing it as a “liberal attempt to discredit law enforcement”. The Order was “heartened by Richard Nixon’s emphasis on law and order”, though it remained strictly apolitical.”

#12 Stan Woodard
September/1/2020
@ 4:59 pm

I really enjoy The Daily Cartoonist and appreciate the diversity of viewpoints shared here. That said, I was little surprised when I read the editorial from The Lewiston Tribune (linked in the article) to find that the paper is not inclined to eliminate all editorial cartoons, but is rather convening a Zoom call for subscribers and others concerned about the Luckovich cartoon.

To my chagrin, it is a fact that I misread and misunderstood your article’s content regarding the controversial cartoon. Indeed the headline states that “Newspaper Eliminates Editorial Cartoons”, not “Newspapers Eliminate . . .” Within the article it is clearly stated that “(Lewiston Tribune) Editor and Publisher Nathan Alford offered a front page apology”, so the misreading follows my own lack of comprehension. Still, I think that I may not be the only one to conflate the two newspapers mentioned as being subject to cancellation of editorial cartoons. Thanks.

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