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 was greatly disturbed at seeing Friday’s front page. A huge man who had a 140-pound tumor removed is newsworthy? There are a lot more important things than this to report on. Is this the kind of tabloid news that you are going to titillate the public with from time to time? Not to mention that the tumor picture was something, quite frankly, I would rather not have seen.
I called this morning to speak to a young woman in your newsroom (I didn’t get her name) about this and she said that putting the picture of this man’s tumor was actually considered for the front page! Are you kidding?
I have not often found fault with your paper, but this just takes the cake. I do not care if the surgery took place in Bakersfield. I am glad he survived. However, this information could have been put somewhere else in your paper and sans the tumor picture. Children are going to see this and be disturbed. In fact, I am a teacher and I receive a class copy of your paper for my students. We read it and discuss world events. With all that is going on with our government, surely you can do better than this.
— Marie Woodard
Price: Are we going to occasionally titillate the public with stories about Bakersfield surgeons who save the lives of desperate people who have given up all hope? About sick or disabled people willing to travel 2,000 miles to this unlikely city and risk major surgery for the chance to live a normal life? Yes. Every time we’re fortunate enough to get our hands on such stories.
If this had been the story of a little girl who had traveled from Mississippi to Bakersfield for life-saving surgery of a spectacularly unusual but less grotesque nature, would it have been newsworthy to you, Marie? Would it have been more palatable? No doubt it would. But the story of Roger Logan and his monstrous tumor is the one that happened to avail itself.
I thought reporter Harold Pierce and photographer Henry A. Barrios did a wonderful job telling the man’s story with respect and gentle humor.
Yes, we weighed the merits of putting on the cover Barrios’ photo of Logan holding up a smartphone photo of his pre-op belly. It produced a great roundtable discussion among several news staffers about news value vs. reader sensitivity, and in the end we made the right call.
Others may have been offended like you, Marie — we knew that would be part of the deal. But it was, by far, the most-read story of the day on bakersfield.com as of Friday morning.
I hear the “aren’t there more important things to report on” line all the time, and the answer is of course there are. But we’ll continue to publish recipes, comics and basketball scores anyway.
I don’t know what grade you teach, Marie, but I think you ought to share the story with your students. Unless they’re kept locked in the basement when they’re not at school, they’ve seen worse. Introduce the story like this: Sometimes doctors can be heroes. Sometimes ordinary people, with the right training, can give other people their lives back.
We need more doctors. Maybe you can help.
Reader: I could have done without the picture of that giant freaking tumor in the paper Friday. For the next month, I’m going to be afraid to turn the pages of The Californian for fear of what my eyes won’t be able to un-see. What’s next? Autopsies? Car accident photos? Hop without a shirt on?
Price: I can’t guarantee you won’t on rare occasion see things that are a little disturbing, Kevin, but I can absolutely assure readers they will never be subjected to a shirtless Michael “Hop” Hopper of KERN Radio infamy.
Reader: I was totally disgusted in your Jan. 21 paper in the Drawn and Quartered pictures (political cartoons). It’s easy to see. This alone tells me your paper has only one opinion of our president! Liberal!
The Joshua J. Whitfield article (“As Americans, we owe Trump love, cooperation,” published above the cartoons that day) was very well written! You should have read that and learned some respect from it!
I have been wondering why so much hate is growing in this great country of ours. When our paper sends this out it is just feeding the hatred! Thank you for letting me let off some steam!
— Joan Conger
Price: Reading your letter, Joan, I can almost see Joshua J. Whitfield as a sort of John Cleese/Sir Lancelot, charging into our ivory tower, broadsword swinging wildly, bolting up the stone steps until, at last, he confronts the dastardly liberals who subjected readers to those anti-Trump cartoons. He orders the libs to read his commentary, and so they do, and in the process they finally learn some respect.
Joan, the same staff that selected those cartoons also selected the Whitfield commentary. I personally discovered it, read it and approved it for publication.
Apparently, publishing those cartoons was evidence of our bias, but publishing Whitfield’s commentary was not because it somehow found its way into the paper on its own.
Reader: I want to thank Trevor Horn for the sports article that he wrote in the paper Feb. 1 (“Today’s signees earned this, and not just on the field.”) In fact, “thank you” doesn’t even do it justice. I am very fortunate, blessed and humbled to be the parent of one of those 27 listed student-athletes. I wholeheartedly agree with every point Trevor made in the article and he couldn’t have hit the whole subject matter more squarely on the head!
As my wife and I have gone (and are still going) through this journey with our son, it has opened our eyes to a great deal of things, about every one of which he touched on: the hard work in the classroom, and the hard work on the fields, in training facilities, lessons, travel teams, etc. Then to go along with that, the “exposure” that you think you are getting, not getting, recruiting agencies, contact with coaches, what is in/out of your control, frustrations, etc. I think just the process as a whole has been a real life lesson, that even if our son wasn’t getting the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, it still would be a lesson and experience that he could take with him and apply throughout life.
One quote that he has learned from one of his coaches and has used for himself in many areas of life is: “At the end of every finish line, are the words ‘Start Here!’” I think it applies to Trevor’s article and what the process requires.
Again, his article was greatly appreciated, spot on, and I am glad you published it. It sounded like it was written by someone who might have experienced this himself.
— Lowell Pollema
Reader: Just a note to let you know — what a great article in your Feb. 1 paper! I want to shout, “Preach it!” Congratulations to all signees! Thank you for covering these student athletes!
— Julie Ortlieb
Price: Sometimes a sports story isn’t just a sports story. In fact the good ones never are. Trevor clearly understands that.
Reader: Congratulations. You really outdid yourself this year with your coverage of “It’s a Grand Night for Music” — a full two-thirds of a page, three mediocre photographs and three captions, all about the orchestra. There were more than 700 musicians on stage that night, including the orchestra, a band and more than 500 voices in the choir, yet your coverage was limited to the orchestra, and that was very vague.
It’s a Grand Night for Music is sponsored by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and involves high schools from all of Kern County. The event is coordinated by educators — high school band, orchestra and choir directors. These directors spend countless volunteer hours, in addition to their regular duties, coordinating this event. All of the directors involved take time coordinating transportation, helping the students learn the music and so many other actions involved in this event. All this preparation takes place outside their contractual hours. And the more than 700 students commit hours outside of their regular school day to rehearse and present this event. And you give us three photos, all of the orchestra.
I know, you will probably retort by saying that The Bakersfield Californian tries to cover all local events equally, but there is only so much room in the paper.
I understand; It wasn’t a sporting event. I understand, it wasn’t politically charged — we weren’t protesting anything. I understand that you must save all of the inches you can for your ritualistic bashing of the Kern High School District.
However, whatever we aren’t doing right, we are doing music right.
— Susan Walters, Stockdale High School vocal music director
Price: Thank you for being a choir teacher. Music adds so much to students’ intellectual and artistic lives. I took choir throughout high school (it didn’t really take) and so did both my kids — and they both still perform.
Having been around high school choirs in both those contexts I can vouch for the fact that you could never achieve what you’re able to achieve without all of those volunteers.
I’m sorry we didn’t cover the event as well as you would have liked. We really do invest maximum resources in covering our schools — sports, yes, but other extracurriculars, too. Look for Harold Pierce’s stories on the county Academic Decathlon and We The People state finals in Sunday’s paper. It’ll be a busy day for him.
Reader: Great piece (“Trice Harvey remembered as a man of wit, wisdom and service,” Feb. 2) on the community treasure known as Trice Harvey. Kudos.
— Tracy Leach
Price: Agreed. Trice Harvey, the longtime county supervisor and state assemblyman who died Jan. 31, was a wonderful guy, loved by friend and foe alike, and reporter James Burger captured him beautifully. Several people wrote to say so.
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