Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Note from R.J. Matson - Homage or Plagiarism?

Related to the orginal post on the R.J. Matson matter I posted on here

In the St. Louis Post Dispatch yesterday, the paper sort of weakly addressed the Matson Matter here

The lead in to the Letters to the Editor section stated: Comic controversy: Was it intentional?

Sounds promising, but all the paper does is run some letters from readers on the topic, no official comment of where this error officially stands within the papers standards. That is wrong and shows a lack of management leadership and lack of commitment by the paper to it's readers.

The headline is followed by a couple letters from readers, one saying proper credit had not been given to Mauldin and should have, one basically saying the cartoon was wonderful. Then the section has a Note from R.J. Matson, which I quote below (see R.J. its not that hard - even a blogger can do it):

I made an egregious error in not acknowledging Bill Mauldin after my signature in the Jan. 24 cartoon. My cartoon was intended to be an homage to the Mauldin original, which I consider one of the classic cartoons of the 20th century. I tried to make my drawing as similar as possible to the original, and I am pleased that many readers got the reference.

Like most other cartoonists, I occasionally appropriate famous images created by great artists to create my own cartoons. In our profession, it is a sign of respect, a fun way to acknowledge our debt to the masters who have inspired us. Knowing that Mauldin (who is one of my heroes) once worked at the Post-Dispatch, I had been looking forward to the opportunity to “quote” him in a cartoon since I started working at this newspaper last summer.
I had every intention of giving proper credit, but in the rush to meet a deadline, I simply forgot. With deep regret and profound embarrassment, I apologize for that oversight.

Matson admits that it was wrong, he made an error, and that he had intended to acknowledge on his cartoon the homage to Mauldin but did not. He uses words like egregious error, deep regret, and profound embarrassment, in his apology, so it would seem that he is indeed remorseful of his mistake. He should be and I will give him credit for doing so. That said, his statement about looking forward to "quote" Mauldin since last summer, makes the oversight even more bizarre to me. How do you look forward to doing such a thing in the paper Mauldin worked for at one time and when you decide to do the "quote - homage", you leave off the part that truly makes it a homage?

Well before this we knew that like the rest of the editorial page at the Post, Matson had extreme political leanings. What I think we now know is that like the rest of the editorial offerings at the Post Dispatch, even the comics are not above questioning for accuracy, and lack of fair and factual content. There is a reason that a product offering has such holes from the top of the page to the comic. Agenda journalism is fertile ground for just such a complete collapse in the Opinion pages of the Post.

This is just the latest example of why the readers of the Post Dispatch need to be very skeptical of what appears in the Opinion section and is penned by the Post editorial body. You would be wise to get information outside of the papers offering on the subjects which they editorialize.