The Pressure Of Pulitzer p.16

By: Editorial Staff

FTER THE LAST back slap, after the final champagne bottle has been drained, after the party is over, the Pulitzer Prize shows its other face.
“It put a certain amount of pressure on me. It inflicts a kind of higher standard,” said Don Wright, who won two Pulitzers for editorial cartooning, in 1966 and 1980, at the old Miami News.
And in the end, Wright says, the journalist’s final judge is not the Pulitzer jury ? but readers.
“It’s certainly wonderful to win . . . .The Pulitzer is something that happens to you that makes you feel you are getting to the top, professionally. But it is the readers who make the final decisions,” he said in a telephone interview from the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, where he has been the editorial cartoonist since the Miami News was folded.
“[The Pulitzer jury] is looking only at certain examples,” Wright continued. “They never see your work on a consistent basis. Your readers do.”
Indeed, Wright says that he’s not sure if he won his Pulitzers for his best work.
“I’m probably the worst judge of my own work,” he said. “If you asked me to pick [a favorite], it’s never the one that people talk of when they talk of a ‘Don Wright cartoon.’ So I just leave it to other people to be the judge of my work.”
Wright says he worries these days about the fate of the editorial cartoon ? especially as increasing numbers of papers enlist their editorials in the service of a “dull . . . dumbed-down” public journalism, or eliminate editorial comment completely.
“I don’t think this bodes well for editorial cartoons. I think we need to have a real dialogue about what constitutes a really good editorial cartoon,” Wright said.
In an increasingly “chic trend,” Wright argues, editorial cartoons have become largely gags or “puns,” in his words. They may be funny or not ? but they very often are not true editorial comment.
“Editorial cartoons will continue to lose their importance as long as they continue in this trend,” Wright said. “If we’re not stimulating the reader, there is no reason to have an editorial cartoon. We’re here to guide readers.
?(“It put a certain amount of pressure on me. It inflicts a kind of higher standard.”) [Caption]
?(-Don Wright, who won two Pulitzers for editorial cartooning, in 1966 and 1980) [Photo & Catpion]

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