Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

Pope Francis I: Holy See if you can fix this...fast.

03/14/2013 12:46 AM

03/13/2013 6:20 PM

Breaking news events often interrupt the pleasant idyll of the gentle editorial cartoonist. Today was the selection of Pope Francis I.

I knew this was coming, along with 1.2 billion Catholics, but since we didn't know who it was going to be (the front-runners didn't make it, and I was pulling for Cardinal Dolan, the Norm Schwarzkopf of the mother church), I couldn't prepare anything in advance.

We here in American newspapers often hear about things the same way you do; you happen to be walking by a television, and it says Special Report or Breaking Calamity on the screen, and you think, rut roh, what happened?

So today it was the selection of the pope.

While I personally favor a series of cardinal debates,  regional primaries, and precinct caucuses, the college of cardinals have their own way of doing things. Of course, American television media has to make it as close to an election night as possible -- Chris Matthews was doing commentary on MSNBC. He didn't mention getting a thrill up his leg or anything, but as a political commentator and a Catholic, he was uniquely qualified to be on the air.

They finally opened the glass door with the red velvet drapes, and the new pope came out, looking like a guy who had been instructed just seconds before about how to wave to several billion people (tentatively, oddly, like it might be a question about whether he was an Animatronic Pope).

So after a few minutes, it was determined that the pope was the first pope from the Americas, and the main hook was that he was the next Hispanic pope (although he's Anglo--I guess they didn't have a truly Latino cardinal, right?).

I decided to play off of the phrase, "Si se puede (yes we can)," which is the commonly accepted phrase of solidarity between Latino peoples. I turned it into, "See se puede," as in Holy See.

Now, when you are sitting by yourself all day, things that seem obvious to you in the silence of your soundproof booth at the end of the hall, around the corner, may not be as obvious to your editors. I ran the rough by one editor, and he thought it fine. Later, another editor came in and said he thought it a bit obscure--at 5:10. My deadline is about thirteen seconds after that.  After a moment, I agreed with him and went with the more graspable "Holy See se puede," which I agreed was clearer, and better.

After a quick run through Photoshop, the word "holy" was added, all was well, and I thanked the colleague.

I saw the light.

There are none so blind as those who will not See.

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.

 

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