LLOYD GRAY: The art of opinion

By Lloyd Gray

Today we reintroduce a former contributor who’s returning to our Opinion page after an absence of several years. Chuck McIntosh’s editorial cartoons will once again be a Daily Journal staple on Sundays and, later this summer, a second time each week.
Chuck, who lives in Tupelo, will focus on local and state issues, as he did in his earlier tenure with us. His cartoons won several awards from the Mississippi Press Association, and we’re glad to have him back.
Editorial cartooning is a rare and difficult craft. Doing it well requires not only drawing talent, which obviously is basic, but the ability to capture and convey an idea with an image and very few words.
Chuck has a relatively gentle approach, but it doesn’t preclude his having fun with and getting a few barbs in at politicians and others in the news. You can expect to see events and issues in Tupelo, Northeast Mississippi and the state at-large captured and commented upon in his work.
Editorial cartoons have a long tradition in America, and that tradition includes equal opportunity evisceration of politicians and public figures, serious and insightful depictions of public issues, or in some cases, just gags good for a laugh.
From time to time people will call or email and complain that an editorial cartoon is unfair to a politician or political position, and my response is that cartoons by their nature are inherently unfair. They represent the cartoonist’s take on an issue, and being in the satirical category, they exaggerate and often oversimplify. The medium allows for no other choice; nuance and balance are not easily conveyed – even if the cartoonist desired – in a single-frame image.
But occasionally there are those cartoons that make a point so well it’s impossible to imagine it being made as effectively in any other medium.
At the Daily Journal, the editorial cartoons we run from national syndicates are the individual opinions of the cartoonist, just as columns reflect the opinion of the writer and not of the Journal itself. As with columns, we attempt to maintain a balance of opinion with our cartoons, and so you’ll see the president – any president – as well as his opponents debunked regularly.
We do, however, work to screen the cartoons that are beyond the pale, and there are those we won’t run because they are insulting or offensive in the extreme – even for editorial cartoonists.
These are days of extraordinary political polarization, which means some people can get extra worked-up about opinions they don’t agree with. But part of the give and take of democracy is exposure to different views, and knowing what the opposition is thinking is one of the best ways to counter it.
So on any given day on the Daily Journal Opinion page you’ll likely find something you disagree with, and we hope on that day or the next you’ll find someone who thinks like you as well. That’s the mix we aim for – whether in words, or from a cartoonist’s pen.
Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or lloyd.gray@journalinc.com.