PEN Canada Concerned at Cartoonist’s Dismissal

By | July 4, 2019 at 11:29 pm | No comments | News

PEN Canada wishes to affirm the critical importance of the editorial independence of newspaper cartoonists. This follows the firing of editorial cartoonist Michael de Adder, which he says is due to a dispute with his employer, the Brunswick News company. De Adder claims that his freelance contract was terminated shortly after he released a widely circulated cartoon of US President Donald Trump playing golf alongside the corpses of two migrants who drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande. De Adder has also accused Brunswick News, owned by the Irving family, of spiking every cartoon he drew for them that was critical of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, a former Irving executive.

Brunswick News denies any link between the termination of de Adder’s contract and the Trump cartoon. The company says it conducted lengthy negotiations with de Adder before its transition to a new cartoonist and that it was not offered the controversial image for publication.

Editorial cartoonists have been targets of increasing censorship internationally; last year Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired after the paper rejected a cartoon showing Trump seizing a child from its parents, one of a series of Rogers’ images critical of the American president. The New York Times announced that it would stop publishing political cartoons altogether as of July 1 in response to controversy over a cartoon considered anti-Semitic, even though its other regular cartoonist had attracted no such opprobrium.

“In a market with media ownership as concentrated as it is in New Brunswick,” said Richard Stursberg, president of PEN Canada, “media pluralism and diversity are more important than ever. In our current media landscape proprietors must make every effort to avoid not only interfering with editorial independence but even appearing to do so.”

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