35 Pulitzer Cartoonists Sign Protest Letter to Pulitzer Prize Board – update

May 24 edit: Since this letter was fired off last week, more Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists have signed on to the protest, including 2020 winner Barry Blitt, and Pat Bagley, the longest-employed staff cartoonist at a daily newspaper.]

Original May 20 report:

Ten days after the 2022 Pulitzer Prizes were announced, 33 35 cartoonists who have won or been finalists for the award signed an unprecedented open letter to the Pulitzer Board about recent changes to the prize.

After quietly expanding the parameters of the Editorial Cartoonist category in 2020 to include illustrators and graphic reporters, the Board that presides over the judging process for journalism’s biggest award renamed the category “Illustrated Reporting and Commentary” at the end of last year. This unannounced move came months after the Pulitzer Committee refused to pick a winner among the three qualified finalists in 2021, and 99 years after the Editorial Cartoonist” category was created.

A letter to the Pulitzer Board from past Pulitzer prize-winners and finalists in the editorial cartooning category:

May 19th, 2022

Dear Pulitzer Prize Board,

We are dismayed to see the Editorial Cartooning category removed from the annual conferring of Pulitzer Prizes. From America’s inception, the editorial cartoon has crystallized our messy political struggle. Iconic historic images — like Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” woodcut, Thomas Nast’s plutocrat with a money bag head, and Herblock’s cartoon coining the term “McCarthyism” — all sprung from the minds of individual cartoonists drawing visceral, emotional, and urgent opinions, in response to the news events of their day. The greatest American editorial cartoons draw on every inch of the First Amendment to, as John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, “push arguments to their logical limits.”

Read the entire letter at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists page.

[C]artoonists draw our arguments using satire, a scarce commodity in journalism, but one that helps stick a message instantaneously and memorably in ways even the finest writing cannot. We mock the powerful, reduce tyrants to sniveling caricatures and twist demagogues’ own words against them.