I have mentioned before that the New Haven Register is perhaps not the gold standard by which journalism should be judged. A small example: for two days running, the paper has featured on its front page a small controversy brewing in the nearby town of Milford:
City veteransâ€™ groups are calling on the public to boycott a River Street liquor store because the storeâ€™s owner has a small poster in his window that the veterans say demeans soldiers, particularly those serving in Iraq, by suggesting the unemployed should join the Army.
But TJâ€™s Package Store owner Thomas Jakubisyn, who served in the Navy aboard the USS Des Moines before and during the Vietnam War, says his poster has been misunderstood and he wonâ€™t take it down. He says it was put up as a simple protest to the war in Iraq.
The small poster of a political cartoon, depicts a camouflage-clad soldier and says, “Out of Work? Undereducated? No Health plan? Join the Army and see Iraq.”
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The cartoon, by artist Chivast, originally appeared in the New York Times; Jakubisyn says heâ€™s had it up since the war started in 2003.
Okay, so here’s the thing: although he is mentioned in both articles, there is no “artist Chivast”. There is a very well known artist named Seymour Chwast, cofounder of the legendary Pushpin Studios and a frequent illustrator for the New York Times, whose signature features a stylized “W” that — I’ll be charitable here — might be misinterpreted as an “I” and a “V”. Chwast is, of course, the illustrator who created the image in question, to accompany a Frank Rich column from 2003.
Took me about five minutes to track that down, using information from the Register’s own article. I was able to pinpoint the date of the initial illustration with Google, and then tracked down the actual image with a little help from my wife the academic, who has access to some specialized databases. (They’ve blocked off a small part of the illo “due to copyright” but Chwast’s signature is still clearly visible). Now, presumably the Register has resources at least comparable to those of a cartoonist sitting at home on his butt in front of a computer screen, but even if they don’t, you’d think they might have called someone at the Times to track the artist down, maybe get a quote from him. Front page news, two days running, you’d think a comment from the artist responsible for the controversy would be of some relevance.
At the very least, you’d think they’d try to get his name right.
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Incidentally, kudos to Mr. Jakubisyn (assuming they got his name right) for not backing down. If you’re in the area, you should throw some business his way.