By Rebecca Osland, Policy Associate
Rick Friday spent the last 21 years drawing cartoons for the Iowa publication Farm News, but his recent pro-farmer cartoon apparently upset an advertiser so much that he was fired. Very quickly, local coverage of this story became national news. Read the New York Times coverage here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/
We think this is a very important story. For one thing, it is a real example of how much power corporate advertisers wield over the information we receive. In our day-to-day lives, we may be vaguely aware that this occurs, but rarely do we get to see clear examples of this. See more on this here: http://www.cjr.org/analysis/
For another thing, the subject matter of this cartoon is exactly the kind of issue a publication for farmers should be addressing–not merely in jest, but in serious substantive articles. Mr. Friday raises the point that the CEOs of three agribusiness companies made more combined profit in 2015 than 2,129 Iowa farmers did. At a time when conventional commodity prices are painfully low, while input costs remain high, the paper could have embraced this opportunity to confront and analyze the challenges facing its readership. Instead, it chose to stifle a researched and critical statement on the reality facing farmers in order to appease a company looking to sell more products to farmers.
Mr. Friday has not been silenced though. Inspiration and empowerment shine through in the self-published cartoons now peppering his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rick.