The Wall Street Journal Rewrites A Pat Byrnes Cartoon Caption
Long time New Yorker cartoonist Pat Byrnes (he began contributing in 1998) posted the following on Facebook this afternoon:
Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran the cartoon below on the right. On the left is the original caption. They bought it in November, 2017. I wrote it months before that. And I acknowledge that times have changed since then.
I can understand if they had political discomfort with it.
But people will read this caption and think I was responsible for it. I wrote to WSJ early yesterday registering my objection and requesting a response. They have not responded.
The edited caption is insipid and utterly lacking in wit. Mine was no “instant classic,” but neither was it amateurish hack work. In my letter, I requested that WSJ contact me before future edits. I promised to rewrite, swap out a new cartoon, or refund payment. Anything not to have my work devalued so publicly.
My purpose with this post is simply to leave a public record that I was not responsible for that dreadfully lame caption.
In a follow-up Facebook post, Mr. Byrnes wrote:
Moments ago, I heard back from the cartoon editor:
“I want to assure you that, henceforth, your captions for our WSJournal feature will NEVER be altered without your approval.
“Very sorry about the mishap.”
This is from their longtime cartoon editor, who has frequently bought cartoons that challenge the standard image of the Journal. I respect him entirely. He works independently, from Florida. And I suspect—that is, I do not know, but merely suspect—that he is taking the fall for this, even though the change was made in New York, without his foreknowledge.
In any case, out of respect for him, I accept the matter as resolved. Thank you all for letting me vent.
And following-up the follow-up, Mr. Byrnes tells The Spill that he accepted the WSJ apology, emailing his editor there:
“I’ve always had great respect for how you frequently choose the material that challenges the paper’s more predictable paradigms. And I will always try to give you my very best.”
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