Best in the world: Ariail becomes first American to win international award

Barack Obama is not the only person I know who is accepting major international awards these days.

My fellow unemployed journalist Robert Ariail just became the first American to win the Ranan Lurie United Nations Political Cartoon Award in the award’s 10-year history. He won out over 1,500 applicants. For that he picks up a check for $10,000 (which is aria_loresthe important part of the news to us unemployed types), and will receive his prize from the U.N. secretary general.

One can find a lot of distinquished company in the unemployment line these days. Anyway, now that we have something to celebrate, I need to get Robert to join me in the Ariail/Warthen memorial booth at Yesterday’s for a beer. We keep meaning to do that, and this is a perfect excuse.

You ask whether I’m proud of Robert? Go read the column I did about him when we left the paper, and then ask that question. I couldn’t be prouder if I were his papa.

Just FYI, some of the other awards that sit in the cardboard box Robert used to keep under his drawing board at the paper (I helped him carry all that stuff out back in March, and I’m guessing it’s in his attic now): the Overseas Press Club of America’s 1997 Thomas Nast Award for cartoons on foreign affairs; the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award five times, in 1991, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007; the 1992 National Society of Professional Journalists Award and the 1990 National Headliner Award. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 and 2000.

The cartoon above — which I agree is one of his best from his last year at the paper — is the one that won it for him.

14 thoughts on “Best in the world: Ariail becomes first American to win international award

  1. Brad Warthen

    Correction: He doesn’t have to go to New York to get his award — he already got it, and, more importantly, the check.

    He says it came in the mail the end of last week. He came home on Friday and there was a notice of a package too bulky to leave in his mailbox. So he headed out to the Post Office on Saturday, and ran smack into the Camden Christmas Parade, which forced him to take the long way around. At this point, if you know Robert, you picture him with smoke coming out of his ears. Anyway, he got the package, and his first thought was that they had just sent an acknowledgment of his entry. But then he thought, this is too big for that.

    So he opens it, and the $10,000 check falls out.

    By the way, just to give you a little perspective — when Robert enters the Pulitzer competition each year, he’s up against about 50 cartoonists. He beat out 1,500 for this.

    Best in the world. Has a nice ring to it.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    and we learned in Rotary today that he will be a regular feature on WIS-TV.

    The State, on the other hand, is becoming less and less something I need in my life. Stupid decisions on their part have reduced the Sunday paper to a glorified coupon wrapper for the most part….

  3. Robert Ariail

    Thank you, my friend. That is such a nice post. I appreciate you putting it out there- I just mentioned it on my site, but I really don’t get too much traffic there. I look forward to our next beer in the Warthen/Ariail memorial booth at Yesterdays!

  4. Libb

    “And newspapers keep getting rid of… all the things that make the product unique.”

    Sad but true. Ariail’s cartoons were one of my favorite features. And I too, am considering letting my subscription go. Just not enough substance anymore.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Hey, y’know if you had actually tried harder with the WaPo contest, you, too, might be a winner. Sometimes I think some of us, me included, need to stop being so “cool” and actually go all out for something. You really could have managed to write a better, yet still short enough to fall within the guidelines, piece.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. You don’t do awfully well at the ones you only half-heartedly swing at, either.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Now, Kathryn, I took a good cut at that. Considering that that’s all I was allowed was one swing — and a short, choppy, choked-up-on-the-bat kind of swing at that — I thought it was a pretty good cut.

    I think my chance would have been a lot better if I’d had three or four full at-bats, and been allowed to swing for the fence, or at least a good line drive to the outfield for a base hit or double.

    I’m not a dazzle-you-with-one-swing kind of writer. I’m a good blurb writer (akin to the fact that I’m a good headline writer). I can encapsulate a thought very briefly and to the point, and do it as well as anyone I’ve ever met in the business.

    But my virtue as a writer of extended thought — the true realm of the “pundit,” which is what they said they were looking for — is one that sneaks up on you over time. After reading a few dozen of my columns, people get comfortable with my voice, and start looking forward to what I’ll have to say about something. That is, some people do. Plenty of others don’t. But my impression is that among the “fans” I actually have, they are people who have come to like my stuff over time. (And those are the fans I value. I don’t place as much value on those thousands who come to me because of one spectacular shot, like the Edwards column that caused such a sensation. It was a good column, but not that good.)

    To return to the metaphor, I’m a baseball kind of writer, not a football type. In football, everything hinges on one game. Lose one, and you have no chance at the championship. In baseball, you show up to play every day, and the best hitters only hit safely about 30 percent of the time. I’m very much a consistent line drive hitter.

    This was a football contest, and everything depended upon one play. I put my head down and charged hard at it — but I knew that whether I scored depended on whether a referee decided, on the basis of that one play, whether to arbitrarily name me the MVP out of hundreds of players. So I took my shot, but I knew that there was only so much I could do.

    That was a decent little 400-word snippet I wrote for them. It was certainly publishable; they’ve run many worse pieces. But I wasn’t destined to win that one. So you pick up, and you keep playing…

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