Tag Archives: Frank Shiers

Are We Journalists or Seahawk Fans? Or Both?

We’re being taken to task on our Facebook page today by a group of readers who think this morning’s editorial cartoon was too harsh on the home team.

Cartoonist Frank Shiers depicted the Seahawks as an injured bird flying through the air, with the New Orleans Saints, the ‘Hawks playoff opponent for Saturday, portrayed as a shotgun with the wounded bird in its sight. Here’s a look if you missed it:

Apparently, the millionaire Seahawks, they of one of the lowest rated offenses and defenses in NFL playoff history, need to be protected from such harsh observation.

It should go without saying that a cartoon on the opinion page is simply one journalist’s view, which is why the angry mob got after him by name. But pointing out the flaws in a professional football is something every booster out there fully participates in (harshest criticism for those we care about, after all), and is different than actively rooting against the home team (which is why I laughed at the cartoon and wanted it on that page).  I know I criticized the local guys while watching the Seahawks stumble toward the finish line, or when UW went 0-12 under Willingham, or when the M’s lost 100, or… actually, I should stop my examples there.

We don’t pass judgment on a sports team’s flaws or successes because we’re boosters, but as journalists. You should expect that from us, and calling a team out gives credibility to us lauding success when it’s earned. However, we’re in a new era and that’s why I wanted to quickly respond to the accusation that poking fun at a professional sports team is “downright offensive.”

The era I’m taking about is one where Fox Sports Northwest, who broadcasts local sports, changes its name to “Root Sports.” I get it, they want to appeal to passionate fans in this “we’re all behind our boys” way, and there is some precendent in the sports department of playing homer that wouldn’t fly in say, covering city hall. But, as Jim Moore points out far better than I can, changing your name to “Root” picks away at the notion of independent journalism just a bit, and I’d argue, sets up the attitude where a local newspaper cartoonist gets pilloried for having a sense of humor about the obvious.

All that said; “Go Seahawks.” They’ll have no trouble finding a prominent spot on our pages should they pull off the upset of the year. Maybe even Frank will give them some love.


A Familiar Addition to the Opinion Page

At left you’ll notice a cartoon that will debut on Sunday’s Opinion page. The drawing may be unfamiliar to some, but the illustrator’s roots are deep enough here that I think you’ll find some connection with our new contributor.

The cartoon’s creator is Frank Shiers, Jr., a Bremerton native, Puget Sound radio personality and longtime cartoonist for a group of weekly newspapers that publish in Kitsap County. You also may recognize him from a story we published almost a year ago this weekend, after he landed a gig hosting KIRO FM’s “Northwest Nights” from 7 to 11 p.m. weeknights on 97.3.

Now he’s with us, and you’ll see his comment on a local issue each Sunday on this page, as well as the occasional state cartoon on weekdays.

Shiers joins current editorial page contributor Abell Smith, the Kingston illustrator who has filed a cartoon every other week since March. Having two local editorial cartoonists brings more community dialogue to our Sunday Opinion page. That’s right in line with the mission we’ve preached for years in the Sun, which we’ve emphasized more often recently as we’ve honed our focus on local news, sports and opinion.

As you’ll see in coming weeks, interpreting Kitsap’s issues and opinions comes easily to Shiers. Despite living on the east side and focusing his radio content on regional issues, Shiers, who was born at Harrison and is a 1973 grad of West High, still owns property in the area, visits Bremerton almost weekly, and has been published in various Kitsap County newspapers continuously since 1981. The law firm his father founded is still in Port Orchard, in fact.

But Shiers didn’t get the job because he’s from around here. His work shows a sense of the issues in Kitsap County and the state, and his comment can range from county politics to social issues or even sports, whether poking fun or provoking thought and emotion. He describes his political viewpoint as “center-right,” but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Today’s  volley from Shiers is on the state level, but expect to see commentary with a distinctly Kitsap focus in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy having more local commentary on the Sunday Opinion page, whatever your political stripe may be, and as always let me know what you think in the comments below.

…On Another Note, an Abrupt Switch In the Comics
Many of you have noticed that on Sept. 20 a swap was made on our daily comics page, with the new strip “Freshly Squeezed” replacing “One Big Happy.”

The new cartoon is a new project by Ed Stein, a national syndicated editorial cartoonist and former Rocky Mountain News illustrator. It was chosen to bring a fresh voice to that page, something we don’t do often with a section that has its loyalists and is part of that morning tradition that makes a daily newspaper part of so many lives.

But none of you knew about the change until it happened. That’s not the place for a surprise, given that loyalty and routine that surrounds the comics, so I apologize for the lack of fair warning. My fault.

Bringing in the new strip was a chance to add something I thought comic fans would enjoy, and I made a decision to replace a strip I didn’t feel had the spark, wit or tradition some of our others do. Frankly, our focus as a newsroom now is on daily gathering of local content and long-range planning. There were days when we could spend time debating the popularity of various strips, surveying comic readers, never reaching a decision that pleases all, and trying to second-guess potential complaints — we no longer have that time. That doesn’t excuse the lack of notice, but I hope it explains the process.

We’re sticking with “Freshly Squeezed,” a storyline about a modern family dealing with a living situation too familiar these days that I hope resonates here. I hope you comics fans give it a fair chance, even as some of you smart from how the change was handled.