An Art Director at a computer magazine I used to illustrate for, suddenly said at a storyboard meeting after a year of co-operation: "For this articale we need a serious picture, so we can not use an illustration by you." It had been okey if she had said: " For this articale we need a photograph with a serious feeling" but instead she said: "-so we can not use an illustration by you, becouse illustration is not serious, therefore I need a photo of a sound mixing table instead". What?! - She said What?! That said that a mixing table would be more serious than an illustration got me to humble say: "ok, but of course I DONT agree at all that an illustration can not be serious". A mixing table?....
There is numerous of articales with "serious" subject matters that are daily portrait with illustrations. Just look at a magazine like WIRED. Illustrations are frequently used for "serious" articales.
The excellent articale about Joe Sacco in the Swedish magazine "Bild & Bubbla" that writes about cartoon is a very good example. If you read swedish you can read a sample with pictures of the article by clicking here >> (or search the internet and magazines).
Joe Sacco is interesting in the way that he uses the medium of cartoons and drawings as a journalistic way of expression. See his "report" on Palestine for example. I would like to do something like this myself.
Of course there is a lot of editors, art directors and alike that DO see the potential and seriousness of using illustations, this specific art director is just an individual. The contrast between her view and Joe Sacco is interesting though. There are numerous of examples when photographes are much more suiteable than an illustration, no question about it, but in my eyes an illustration, a drawing can be serious.
For example, when Colin Powell, ex. USA minister of foreign affairs, stood infront of the world press and TV cameras and behind him having Picassos large painting "Guernica", covered by a blue cloth at the very UN building in New York, and had to justify the invasion of Irak is a strong example of this.
Read about Picassos "Guernica" here >>