An Iowa-based cartoonist says he was fired from his job of 21 years after a sketch he drew provoked the ire of a large company.
Rick Friday, who has been producing the "It's Friday" cartoon column in Farm News for the past two decades, was let go a day after his latest drawing appeared, according to media reports.
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According to KCCI, on May 1 Friday wrote the following on Facebook:
Again, I fall hard in the best interests of large corporations. I am no longer the Editorial Cartoonist for Farm News due to the attached cartoon which was published yesterday. Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of its Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.
Friday added he was notified of the publication’s decision to break off ties with him in an email.
“I did my research and only submitted the facts in my cartoon,” he added.
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The cartoon featured two farmers discussing their business.
“I wish there was more profit in farming,” the first remarks.
“There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers,” the second replies.
The Des Moines Register reported that, based on Morningstar data, the three CEOs from the companies mentioned in Friday’s cartoon earned $52.9 million last year.
The company responsible for issuing the complaint has not been identified. Larry Kershner, editor of Farm News, said he could not comment on Friday’s firing.
Friday hopes the cartoon will have an impact in spite of his own fate.
“When it comes to altering someone’s opinion or someone’s voice for the purpose of wealth, I have a problem with that,” Friday told KCCI. “It’s our constitutional right to free speech and our constitutional right to free press.”
News of Friday's termination comes the same week as Press Freedom Day was marked around the world May 3.
In a report released by journalist organization Reporters Without Borders, the United States is ranked 41st in the world for press freedom, according to USA Today.