Friday, May 2, 2014

One More For The Road…

As we noted a week ago today, this is the last edition of The Daily Felltoon Commentary and Newsletter - and our staff is a bit bittersweet over it.

We thoroughly enjoy each other's company as individuals, and our staff plans to keep working together in different ways - as well continuing our friendships - after we publish today's final edition. There will always be something different in our conversations now, a deeper ability to communicate rapidly yet thoroughly, developed after years of working together as a team.

Even as we paste up the final edition and head off into the sunset, we're sharing a unique feeling of pride and accomplishment in what we've accomplished over the last six years, through hard work and honest intent.

Before we go, we have to thank our loyal readers, including those in both politics and the media. Your suggestions, comments, and words of thanks and praise as we wrap up this endeavor have been greatly appreciated. Events like having had our work mentioned in the New York Times, even as Paul's always smart political cartoons would keep finding their way into places like Politico's and NPR's websites, reminded us that weren't creating some ineffectual publication, and the people we reached weren't just your average run-of-the-mill folks.

We're well aware that among some of our readers and colleagues in the national media our full edition has become a kind of midday cheat sheet checkoff. Instead of paging through piles of tweets, links, and e-mails, they'd simply check their list of stories they thought were important against our complete daily edition in their e-mailboxes, to make sure they hadn't missed a key story over the last twenty-four hours.

We've had a great of deal praise over the years for our commentaries too, which has humbled us from time to time - especially when that praise came from individuals for whom we have a great deal of respect. We also have to admit: We've learned more than we thought we would about how to write, draw, edit, publish, and work as a small publishing team in the digital age. When we began this online endeavor six years ago, it was for fun, promotion of our abilities, and we'd hoped a small bit of profit.

As we mentioned last week, Paul will continue to publish his cartoons at PaulFellCartoons.com, editorialcartoonists.com, and Artizans.com - so if you're worried about not getting your daily fix of visual commentary, we can assure you Paul will continue to draw as long as he's able.

We hope, more than anything, you'll continue to keep yourselves well-educated and well-informed about politics and the world around you. The world of media today isn't the same as it once was. Not too many years ago, you could pay nothing, yet read several newspapers or magazines at work, school, or the shop around the corner and keep both well-informed and well-educated.

Today, as more and more content moves completely online, it's harder to skate by without paying for at least some of your information and entertainment - and we actually think that's a better arrangement for both content creators like us and readers like you. As we've said for years, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well" - and that includes being both a consumer of media and being a well-informed citizen. So we hope you'll subscribe to at least one newspaper or news magazine, online or offline, if you don't already. We also recommend donating to media organizations like NPR or Free Speech TV, as well as your favorite radio show or alternative media organization.

High quality media creators can only create their work for you, if you help put a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food in their stomachs. After all, creating high-quality media may look easy - but if it truly was easy, everyone could do it well. One look at some of the dreck in the media world today that calls itself "news" or "entertainment" should be enough proof that what we've done here at The Daily Felltoon for six years was not something anyone could do - and it certainly was not without significant value to many.

As we noted last week, going forward, we'll miss the chance to share each weekday's news with you in this format - but it's time for a change, for all of us.

Thanks for all your support and appreciation through the years.

- The Daily Felltoon Staff

Friday, April 25, 2014

All Good Things...

We have some news to share with you, our faithful and loyal readers.

For the past 6 years, The Daily Felltoon online service has been bringing you editorial cartoons, breaking news, and commentary each business day. For nationally-known cartoonist Paul Fell, writer and journalist Shawn Peirce, our current editor Amy Menge, and a handful of others over the years, this project has been a real labor of love. It has given us a national forum in which to share our views of current events, and has fostered positive and helpful discussions and comments from our many faithful subscribers.

Sadly, the time has come to pull the plug on The Daily Felltoon service. During the 6-year run of the Felltoon, we have provided online content at no charge to our subscribers. We have had lengthy discussions with other professionals in the media and have reluctantly decided that our staff can no longer invest the time and energy required to continue without showing some kind of a realistic profit. Unfortunately, in the media landscape today, those with the resources to support quality journalism rarely do so, while those who use and appreciate quality journalism often do not have the means to support it.

Our namesake, Editor-in-Chief and cartoonist Paul Fell, will still be creating his fantastic editorial cartoons for Artizans Syndicate. You will be able to see them daily at artizans.com, editorialcartoonists.com, or at Paul's website, paulfellcartoons.com. Paul will also continue to create his weekly cartoons for the Nebraska Press Association and the Oklahoma Gazette. He'll be soliciting freelance assignments in cartooning and humorous illustration as well.

Our webmaster, and primary writer, Shawn "Smith" Peirce is also moving on. Shawn's position as Assistant Executive Producer of the nationally syndicated Randi Rhodes talk radio show is coming to an end, as that show ends its ten year run on May 16th. Shawn is already looking to leave South Florida and seek greener career pastures in the Washington, D.C. area. As an experienced national radio producer, on-air talent, writer, journalist, webmaster, and graphic designer, we have no doubt he'll find someone in DC in need of his skills very soon.

Our editor Amy Menge's life has also grown notably more busy lately, with the wonderful recent addition of a second child to her family, as well as her professional language and document translation business. She also assists with her husband's cartoon and science fiction writing, including their primary project these days (other than their kids), the online comic book 'Snow By Night.'

We're proud of the work we've produced with The Daily Felltoon, and the discussions we've fostered nationally. Those discussions have been more important than many people may realize. Our subscribers include a surprisingly diverse and highly-placed group of people. Members of Congress and their staff, White House staff, members of several state legislatures and governor's offices have been reading our work every weekday for the past 6 years. Board members of local and national media organizations, as well as professional cartoonists, other artists, writers, musicians, and linguists have also been enjoying what we've proudly provided.

We will miss the opportunity to continue to share with you Paul's fantastic cartoons, our editorial commentary, and the best aggregation of news links and stories that the best in the media have to offer.  We each have other challenges ahead of us, though - and as the old axiom goes, 'All good things must come to an end.'

If you'd like to drop us a line of farewell, feel free to post a comment below, or send e-mails to webmaster@paulfellcartoons.com.

Thank you for your support and appreciation through the years.

We'll have one final edition a week from today, on May 2, 2014.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Terrifying Future That's Almost Here

As we look ahead to the fall elections, and the 2016 elections beyond, both the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions from this current excuse for a Supreme Court are weighing heavily on our minds. What's weighing even more heavily is that Americans soon may not have any serious access to honest media - and might only have propaganda from the new American oligarchs instead.

We wish we could say that our comments this day were hyperbole, that looking into the near future of political campaigns in America wasn't like staring into a magic mirror that only spouted lies and a fog of obfuscation.

We can't say that, though.

Just look at the news. Since the Supreme Court effectively removed any serious limits on political campaign financing earlier in the year, the hugely wealthy Koch Brothers and their ironically named political advocacy group "Americans For Prosperity" have spent more than $35 million, just on negative TV ads, trying to slur, slam, and denigrate just four Democratic candidates.

We're not exaggerating when we say that the Koch Brothers and those who stand with them will stoop to any level. The latest example of this was an AFP ad aimed at Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall from Colorado. That ad used a picture of President Obama and Senator Udall, taken from the dark days after the Aurora theatre massacre. The ad creators then photoshopped out the background and used the photo in a totally unrelated and negative context.

Surprisingly, the Koch-backed group was actually able to be shamed enough by the families of the Aurora victims that the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity changed the ad - but not by much.

You might have heard about this disgusting display on the news or on the internet - though you may not have even that option in the near future.

Even as Comcast is desperately scrambling to sell off assets, so that the Federal regulatory agencies might allow the Comcast/Time Warner merger to slip through, the FCC is also proposing the gutting of Net Neutrality.

That would mean that Internet Service Providers would be allowed to charge higher rates for different kinds of traffic online - effectively legalizing internet highway robbery. The recent dispute between Netflix and Comcast is a perfect example of how a telecom corporation can virtually hold up whomever they want in a world without Net Neutrality, and suffer no consequences.

Under a system without Net Neutrality, if you want to watch a TV show or news program owned by Viacom - for example Comedy Central or the new series on Showtime,'Years of Living Dangerously' - and the only choice for high-speed internet you have is Comcast (who owns NBC), that internet service provider may have the right to slow your viewing access down to a crawl. Unless, of course, you pay whatever extra access fee they decide to charge.

If you thought the recent study that proved that America has become an oligarchy - a nation where only the richest will have any opportunities - was a joke, as we assured you when we first saw it, that fact is indeed very serious, very sad, and a very real indictment of the way our U.S. government is currently working (or not working).

While we can't eliminate the oligarchs today, if you'd like to do something to help keep Net Neutrality alive, we recommend you send your scathing comments to the FCC as soon as their public comment period opens on this issue.

Just don't be surprised if, in the near future, the only ads on your television, tablet, phone and computer are political propaganda filled with hate and lies - and that's the only programming you get on those devices that actually runs smoothly, as we've all come to expect online.