This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions may be edited for space and clarity.
Reader: I have been a subscriber for more than 20 years, but unfortunately, I will not renew my subscription. Your anti-Trump coverage during 2016 was way over the top. I was already upset with your partnership with USA Today, which everyone knows should be called Democratic Party Today.
Mr. Price's pathetic attempts to convince folks that your paper was fair during the election is laughable. He points out that it was because Trump says outrageous things, or he makes more news, or even that respected Republicans have been rebuking Trump, makes it fair. That does not mean that you have to only report that! That is not fair and balanced. This "chicken little" irrational fear of Trump is just amazing to watch from so-called educated, reasonable people. You would think, by reading your columnists, that half the people elected the Grand Wizard of the KKK and a serial rapist!
You print opinion columns from liberal journalists all the time that I have never heard of. It's like you scour the papers for anything anti-Trump, which of course does not take much effort. I don't mind having the other side in the Opinion pages. I mean, if you want to have the racist, victim of white privilege Leonard Pitts and the looney-tunes Bob Franken, go ahead. Just have some balance, and my Rich Lowry every once in a while ain't balance. It's amazing that you still have subscribers in this conservative town.
— Benny Rocha
Price: You're right. That ain't balance. But it's reality. And you're right that it does not take much effort to find columnists — including conservatives! — who don't care for Trump. Finding pro-Trump columnists is much tougher. I know because I've tried, and continue to try.
We have added two conservative columnists, Charles Krauthammer and George Will, but Will confounds the situation by consistently criticizing Trump, like so many card-carrying conservatives have done.
Fact is, Trump didn't get elected as a conservative. He got elected as a populist with dubious conservative credentials. Yet I continue to hear from readers who apparently believe otherwise.
Reader: Thank you, thank you, thank you for including conservative columnists George Will and Charles Krauthammer in your Opinion section.
I can almost forgive you for dropping “Get Fuzzy."
— Betty Patton
Price: You're welcome. And, as noted previously, the comic "Get Fuzzy" was deep into reruns.
Reader: I am a longtime reader, and am writing to urge The Californian to increase your coverage of how Trump is pushing through his cabinet nominations without proper vetting. Cabinet nominations have always been vetted by the Office of Government Ethics before their confirmation hearings.
The Office of Government Ethics stated in a letter on Jan. 7 that the Trump transition team has not given them the opportunity to vet many of the cabinet picks. The letter was sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who said in a statement on Saturday that the letter “makes it crystal clear that the transition team's collusion with Senate Republicans to jam through these cabinet nominees before they've been thoroughly vetted is unprecedented.”
We expect our local media to cover this important story and we hope that you will be doing so.
— Sarah Krausse
Price: Our news services have done a decent job of covering this issue. We'll stay with it.
For the record, new presidents have historically had little trouble pushing their cabinet nominations through, and I have no doubt Trump will manage too.
Reader: Why did The Californian not have an article on the death of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, only a very small article in USA Today?
— Kathryn Barton
Price: Cernan died on a Monday. Tuesdays are smaller papers so we're pretty much forced to leave the national and international news to our USA Today section. So that's really a question for USA Today. But I would imagine their answer would reference the fact that there's been a ton of news competing for space recently — Trump's inauguration, cabinet nomination hearings, MLK observances, etc.
It's best to die on a Friday or Saturday. Such is the uneven nature of news coverage, to put it in realistic terms. But to answer your question another way, yes, he deserved better than what he got.
Reader: In the 5 day forecast on your Weather page, among other information, sunrise and sunset are indicated. For each day, sunset correctly is shown to get later each day.
However, sunrise has remained constant for a couple of weeks now, at 7:05, which is messing with the forward planning of my tee times.
On the plus side, I have a few extra minutes to write to TBC.
— Paul Forster
Price: I don't know if it's possible to have two straight weeks of 7:05 a.m. sunrises but I suspect not. In any case, the sunrise count is advancing properly now. That's the good news for early-morning golfers. The bad news, from a sportsman's point of view, is several more days of rain.
Stay home and write me a longer letter.
Reader: I am very sad and disappointed in you today (Jan. 16) because you neglected to even mention recognition of the MLK Day celebration anywhere in the paper. You are the major leading newspaper in our county and you failed to acknowledge this national holiday.
I have been a longtime subscriber dating back more than 25 years and have had great respect for your paper, but today I am totally disappointed in your lack of respect for Dr. King, the African American citizens of this town and this nation and, especially for myself.
Just maybe, you opted to wait until tomorrow to cover the previous day's festivities. Please don't let me have another disappointing day when I receive my paper in the morning.
— Barbara Williams
Price: You assume correctly. We put our resources into covering the events after they occurred, with Jan. 17 stories on the local MLK breakfast in the morning, a march in the evening, and Danny Morrison's column. But, yes, we might also have had an advance story telling people when and where to go to participate.
Reader: I am one of Jai Bornstein's older sisters and I'm writing to thank Steven Mayer for the piece he wrote about her and the discussion around Bakersfield becoming "safer and softer." It's a topic so many people in Bakersfield (and beyond) would rather not have and I'm thankful that you put it out there the way you did.
I'm sure the backlash has been ugly and for that I'm truly sorry. While it may be a small comfort I want you to know that your piece brought a moment of light to my sisters and parents at the height of our grief. I wish I could say more and say it more eloquently but grief has a way of wearing down the brain's abilities. My family sends our love and gratitude.
— Kelly Guajardo
Price: Thank you. You managed eloquence anyway.
Reader: I was looking at the Jan. 18 front page and wondering, did you have more on the video than just this picture? Because I don't see a beating here. I see an officer trying to get a man down. They're not using any guns. Why the word "beating" during an arrest would be captioned on the front page?
Now maybe there is more in the video than what I can see, but this doesn't speak well of our law enforcement. The media is the problem here. Was there an actual video that you saw?
— Paula McBroom
Price: Yes, there was a video, and yes, you might have viewed it yourself if you'd visited bakersfield.com, as we invited readers to do in our Jan. 18 edition. Did you open the paper or just look at the front page?
I don't think there's any question a beating took place; no one I'm aware of has questioned that characterization. Now, whether or not that beating was justified is another matter. Jarred Allen, the man who was beaten and arrested, was allegedly menacing people at that convenience store. And he has a long, long list of priors.
Reader: I am enclosing proof of biased reporting, which favors boys' and men's sports over girls' and women's. I know all of the excuses you are going to give ... not as many girls sports, etc., etc., but you are NOT taking advantage of the opportunities that are available. (I have selected random dates, but all are the same.) Where is your coverage of girls' sports?
Girls are deserving of recognition. They are just as competitive, work just as hard, and spend as much time and money training as the boys. They work hard to achieve greatness and to win awards and scholarships and yet, their efforts are ignored by The Californian.
If I were a parent, I would be as mad as an "old wet sitting hen." The parents have spent tremendous amounts of time, money and energy to provide equal opportunities for their daughters. They should be rewarded for their efforts in the same way that the parents of boys are.
I suggest that you hire a female sports writer or fire Zach Ewing and hire someone who can be fair to both girls and boys. I have held on to this letter to make sure I wanted to mail it. I do. I am surprised ACLU isn't on your case (or Mrs. Gloria Allred).
Your owners have said they love trying new things. Please start with the sports section. 2017 is a good time to feature girls sports first. Zach's excuse for featuring boys first was rather ... well, I guess the word would be dumb.
— Carolyn Roberts
Price: That was quite a collection of sports sections you saved up, annotated and mailed along with your letter to support your criticism. I asked Zach Ewing about this imbalance you say you see. His response:
"I can't help but shake my head at your assertion that we are biased against girls' and women's sports.
"Yes, there is more coverage of men's professional sports than women's — part of a news organization's job is to determine what news is of the greatest interest. And by any metric, men's professional sports are much more popular than women's. The gap is closing, to be sure, but it still is a big gap. We are reacting to that market, as do media outlets everywhere.
"As for local sports, we have made and will continue to make high school football a priority in our coverage. A great number of our readers have expressed their approval of this, and online readership metrics continue to show that high school football is the single most popular topic this newspaper covers.
"Football is, of course, largely a boys sport. If you remove football from the equation, however, I think you will find our local sports coverage to be quite balanced between female and male sports. Furthermore, I think if you ask girls/female sports coaches and athletes in this area, the great majority would be pleased with our coverage.
"It's ironic you included our BVarsity All-Area teams for girls tennis and girls golf — we also did them for volleyball and girls cross country, as we do for all girls sports — with your letter. I would proudly put our coverage of girls high school sports up against any newspaper in the country. I challenge you to do the same."
I'll add this. I started my journalism career as a sports editor back in the 1980s and I can tell you without reservation that girls' sports have made major inroads over that time. They're given much more attention than they got back when I was directly involved. And I'd hold up The Californian's coverage of girls' sports today against any daily in the country. If you find a paper that does it better, please send me a copy.
I'll tell that to the ACLU, too, if they call. But I'm guessing they've got bigger fish to fry these days.
Reader: While much of the news is sad, dour and downright depressing, the ads pleading for help in the return of a lost beloved pet always hit me hardest. I worry and wonder and feel helpless, and the worst thing is that I almost never know the outcome. What a delight to see "Tinkerbell is Home" on the back page of Thursday's paper.
Thank you to her owners for being so thoughtful. I hope TBC gave them a discount on the "Tinkerbell is Home" ad because it was greatly appreciated.
— Pamela Wildermuth
Price: We're excited for Tinkerbell, too, and also appreciate the opportunity to turn away from politics for a moment.
Robert Price and The Californian welcome your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to email@example.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.