Congratulations, Ontario Liberal Press Secretary’s Office
Social media is a wonderful platform for editorial cartoonists to share their daily goods. Not only does it allow artists to avoid lag time between completion and public display, the results look way better on a screen than printed on newsprint. Best of all, instantaneous reaction from your following lets a cartoonist know how well one did on their cartoon. We cartoonists love it when people like, share, or retweet cartoons over the expanse of all social media – but we absolutely despise it when people mess with our work.
The biggest pitfall of social media is that it has spawned an empire of Bush Leaguers – huge swaths of online amateurs with little or no training displacing professionals, be they musicians, writers, photographers, and … editorial cartoonists. Anyone with a computer can bluff their way into coming up with content by repurposing stuff found on the Internet, cutting out monikers, and posting stuff as if it was their own.
Take, for example, the above monstrosity, a piece of partisan propaganda using the works of unknowing artists, slapped together in an attempt to simulate a genuine work of satire, and shared on Twitter. Someone, using chop shop graphic software, thought the above piece was worthy enough to share – something better than from where the extracted element originated. Here’s where the caricatures actually came from:
That’s right, my depiction of Ontario PC leaders was clumsily added to a landscape possibly belonging to another unknowing artist.
A carefully crafted work of satire that took thought and effort to come up with, whose message is no different than something a writer or columnist might have composed. Would a member of the Ontario Liberal Press Secretary’s office willingly extract a paragraph from a newspaper columnist’s piece and not credit the author if the extract was used in, say, a press release? They would get holy hell if caught. So why would the Ontario Liberal Press Secretary’s Office feel it’s okay to steal the work of artists? Leave cartoons alone!
Three years ago Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed a gathering of the Canadian Association of Cartoonists at a reception in Toronto. She declared her support for the satire that we deliver in our political cartoons as an essential form of expression in a thriving democracy. The leader of the Liberal Party affirmed respect for the integrity of satire, whereas her party’s press secretary’s office demonstrates the complete opposite, and that is why they are bestowed the indignity of a Social Media Jackass Award.
There are more examples through @LibPressSec‘s Twitter account posting other unsourced works from unknowing cartoonists. Have a look, and maybe send them a note. Given that they’re posting fresh stuff to their account, and haven’t deleted the offending material, reworking cartoons for partisan purposes is okay in the Liberal Party Press Secretary’s eyes.
Past Recipients of the Social Media Jackass Award. Each winner eventually removed stolen items from their feeds but it always took persistence:
UPDATE (March 3, 2018): The offending photoshopped cartoon involving my work was deleted, but noticeable were other repurposed cartoons belonging to other artists. The account holder @LibPressSec made no attempt to make contact with an assurance that they’ll stop doing this. With a provincial election fast approaching it’s expected they will. Let’s keep an eye of them.