Pittsburgh Cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize Finalist Visits Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A 1999 Pulitzer Prize finalist and former nationally-syndicated cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rob Rogers, spoke before around 150 students and faculty about his career and recent firing Tuesday night in Kern Auditorium.
Rogers recounted his tenures at the two principal Pittsburgh newspapers, the Press and Post-Gazette. He detailed his recent dismissal from the latter in June 2018 due to cartoons that editors deemed insensitive.
Rogers spent 25 years at the Post-Gazette, beginning in 1993 when the newspaper absorbed the now-defunct Press. He said he targets politicians on either side of the ideological spectrum equally, despite his liberal leanings.
“Cartoonists are a different animal,” Rogers said. “To be a really good cartoonist, you can’t put restraints on yourself. Everything is fair game.”
Rogers transitioned to a portfolio of his own cartoons. He said his downfall was primarily caused by his depiction of President Trump. He explained that the arrival of editor Keith Burris, known for his controversial views on racism, prompted his departure.
“In a normal year, one or two cartoons would be killed,” Rogers said. “In the three months that Keith Burris was my editor, 18 cartoons were killed.”
Mark Miller, 60, a lifelong Pennsylvania resident and former Penn State IST employee, enjoyed the presentation, saying that he appreciated Rogers’ content.
“I think he has a lot of interesting views,” Miller said. “I’m not sure that everybody understood that you need an appreciation of humor.”
Rogers said his life remains sustainable even after his departure from the Post-Gazette. While he lamented not receiving the health benefits granted to a staff cartoonist, he still possesses countless subscribers through his freelance and syndicated work.
“People need humor in their lives,” Rogers said. “They need to be able to look at some of these things and realize that we’re going to get through it.”
Sebastien Kraft is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.