Reader: On Dec. 8, you ran a story with the headline, "New pesticide regulations expected to reduce Kern's crop yield." I wonder why you didn't choose the headline, "New pesticide regulations expected to save lives"? I understand we live in an agricultural community, but I would expect a newspaper to be a bit more objective in terms of how stories are framed.
— Matthew Woodman
Price: If this were a story that described how researchers had discovered a link between chlorpyrifos (pronounced klor-PEER-ih-foss) and serious, specific health consequences, you would be correct. But that fact has been established: The chemical is believed to damage infants' brains, among other findings. The story now is how more stringent regulation of this chemical, scheduled to kick in Jan. 1, will affect Kern County's leading industry, agriculture. John Cox's story explored how growers — the ones who would talk to us — will have to deal with the new restrictions.
"New pesticide regulations expected to save lives" would be a great headline if that were what the story was about. It's not; perhaps we should write that story again. Living in this agricultural valley as we do, pesticide exposure ought to be a concern, not only for farmworkers but the general population as well.
That said, Cox's story did prominently include information about this pesticide's detrimental effects on people.
I asked Cox to elaborate. His response: "I suspect our critic here failed to read the smaller words beneath the headline. That, or he neglected to read the multiple stories we have already published about the health and environmental risks of chlorpyrifos use in the Central Valley. My story summarized these risks, alongside previously unreported figures showing how the use of this dangerous pesticide has declined. Few would argue the regulations released this month are baseless. But let's be honest with ourselves and acknowledge there will be financial impacts. The challenge lies in balancing those competing interests."
Reader: In his column published Dec. 13, Stephen Moore speaks of George H.W. Bush's tax increase, calling it the political blunder of the half century and "the Bush tax betrayal."
He speaks of a great many problems without mentioning the horrible mess that Ronald Reagan's tax cuts had caused previously. Neither did he mention the fact that the mess Bush the elder inherited was going to take some time to work out. But most importantly, he didn’t mention America's prosperity during the rest of the 1990s under the Democrats.
What this tells me is that Moore is not concerned for the good of America. But rather he is suggesting that all decisions should be made with the first concern for oneself and one's party.
Moore is the root of America's problems. And ironically our Constitution gives him the voice to speak fake news.
It is the constitutionally protected right to produce these fake editorials that are mistakenly accepted as news and give rise to the negative criticism of real news reporting.
I suggest that the editorial pages be headlined in great big red letters with the title "Editorial." Then wrap the page in a red ribbon, broken up with the word "Editorial." Also, under the headline that says "Editorial," please place a definition of the work highlighted and in bold print.
— Gary Kozy
Price: It's not unusual for partisan voices like Moore's to exclude information they don't find convenient, like the economic bounce-back under Bill Clinton. Liberal columnists do the same sort of thing. When one is trying to write a persuasive essay in less than 700 words, it's usually impossible to fairly portray all sides of a debate. That's what news stories are supposed to do; like a prosecutor, the columnist is trying to make a case.
We already mark opinion columns pretty clearly, I think. Moore's weekly column appears under a giant "Opinion" page header. Moore's photo, or "column sig," along with the mini-bio at the end of his piece that states he is a senior fellow at the (conservative) Heritage Foundation is supposed to give you an idea where he's coming from.
If he, or any columnist, misstates facts, let us know. Interpreting facts is another matter, but sometimes the line is pretty thin.
Reader: Great column on retiring Houchin Blood Bank CEO Greg Gallion. ("We willingly bled for the man; now Gallion rides off into the sunset," Dec. 12). You captured the spirit of the man, which is full speed ahead at whatever he does. He certainly made myself and others aware of the need to be a continuous donor.
It is the gift of life that requires so little time. Thanks to Greg for a job well done.
— John Tracy
Price: I could have written a column on any one of several aspects of the man, including a piece on his handlebar mustache alone. He is not a shrinking violet, that's for sure.
Reader: Hey, Robert. Missed you today. Hope you're just on a well-deserved vacation and that everything is all right.
— John O'Connell
Price: I've missed a couple of Sundays recently, but mostly for the best of reasons: I'm working on a new project, a themed column with multimedia accompaniments called "Where We Live" that explores the many distinct neighborhoods, enclaves and communities within metro Bakersfield. First up is a big one: Oildale, a community with many challenges and engaged residents trying to address those challenges. Look for it Dec. 23.