visual storytelling

From overwhelming statistics to devastating headlines, many reporters have faced burnout from the stress of reporting on COVID-19. Among the many forms of media that journalists have produced during the pandemic, however, one comes as a source of relief and, at times, even humor: editorial cartoons.

ICFJ Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum Community Manager Paul Adepoju sat down with Mike Asukwo, an award-winning cartoonist from Nigeria and the head of graphics for Business Day, to discuss the role of cartoons in storytelling and reporting on the pandemic. Asukwo is known for his thought-provoking and humorous work, often tackling socio-political issues and narratives about the Nigerian government.



A cartoon is a very strong source of information,” Asukwo said. “We tend to forget a lot of things that happen around us, but once [drawn] in a cartoon it stays in our memory because of the imagery chosen, the elements used and the medium that is used to present the cartoons.”

According to Asukwo, cartoons can be interpretative, analytical, entertaining and even prophetic, depending on the themes portrayed. Here are some tips for aspiring cartoonists:

Mold your creative process

(1) Pick your subject matter

Before starting the process of creating an image, decide what the focus of your cartoon will be.

“The first thing I ask myself is, what am I going to talk about today?” Asukwo said. “What are the issues — not what is trendy — but what are the issues that affect me most, or in regards to the public?”

(2) Choose a perspective

Once there is a chosen subject matter, Asukwo determines the point of view of his graphic. When deciding this, consider how people currently feel about your topic, and its future significance.

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by Janat Batra, International Journalists’ Network

Photo by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash

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