Robert Price.

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 am not one to write whenever I don't like what I read, but I couldn't resist this time. Regarding the July 27 headline, "Hillary Gets Nomination," followed with "Clinton shatters glass ceiling, becomes first woman from major party to be presidential candidate,” why in the world was the front page picture of Bill Clinton waving? He had his day and boy did he make history!

This is not about whether you like her or not and regardless of political affiliation, history was made! Why in the world wasn't Hillary the one pictured? The July 28 front page picture of her and Obama was timely. That captured history. The first African-American president and the first female to crack the glass ceiling. But, the July 27 headline and picture were mismatched.

— Darlyn Baker

Price: We played it safe, unfortunately, as did a great number of newspapers around the country. Here was a live event, subject to time overruns and other potential complications. Even if things went smoothly it wasn’t clear whether Hillary would even make an appearance. And we had a deadline to worry about.

So we went with Bill Clinton, an immensely popular figure in the Democratic Party, and the 42nd president, who has a chance to become the country’s first gentleman (first husband, first dude, first bubba — pick one), did not disappoint. We paired his photo, waving to a raucous DNC crowd, with a headline that unequivocally captured the significance of the moment.

Could we have pulled out a file photo of Hillary from a previous campaign stop and used that instead? Sure. That’s what USA Today did on page 14 of our national news section, pairing a recent photo of Hillary with the headline “A moment in U.S. history.” But that’s equally incongruous, if you ask me — a historic “moment” illustrated by a photo of not that moment.

Turned out Hillary eventually showed up after all — on the mega-video screen in the Philadelphia convention hall, and a few newspapers went with that on their front pages. An image of an image.

Ironically, in her blog, USA Today’s Eliza Collins called us on this question, too, singling out The Californian and the Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator as two that went with Bill. “The Bakersfield Californian covered almost its entire front page with Bill Clinton,” she wrote, leaving out what I think is a salient point: We’re the only daily tabloid format newspaper (weekdays, anyway) west of the Mississippi, so our front pages are generally going to be a single image and a single topic. A reader not familiar with us might have imagined a full-size sheet with four or five front-page stories on Bill Clinton.

Hours before you, Darlyn, or USA Today called any of this to my attention, I visited Newseum.com to see how other newspapers played the story. Turns out a lot more of them than just The Californian and The Vindicator used Bill’s photo as the front page’s dominant art. The San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, (Tucson) Arizona Star, San Diego Union Tribune, San Luis Obispo Tribune — even Hillary’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, centerpieced front-page photos of Bill. No doubt there were many more, but that’s all the time I had.

Many other papers, I should also note, went with big photos of boisterous convention delegates rather than fresh shots of Bill or Hillary. The Miami Herald was one of them, although the most eye-catching thing on the page was a cut-out mug of humor columnist Dave Barry complaining, “What? There are no cocktails available inside the convention hall?” The ultimate glass ceiling has shattered but our pal Dave just wants his bourbon and Coke. The Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and Orange County Register, which had an especially engaging front page, were three of the very few that featured Hillary on the big screen.

In going with Bill instead of waiting and hoping, we had a lot of company.


Price: We announced this last month but it bears repeating: We’ve taken down the bakersfield.com paywall. That means you can access much (but not all) of our content on your computer, tablet or smartphone at no charge. We’ve come to the conclusion that giving everyone free and open access to most of our content is the best way to connect members of our digital audience with each other, and with our advertisers.

A subscription is still required for our e-Edition, the digital duplicate of the print newspaper that I personally find most convenient. Later this summer, we will be offering enhancements to the e-Edition, including a feature that allows us to update, enhance and correct throughout the day. Miss the old afternoon paper of yore? It’ll soon be back, at least digitally.


Reader: I'd like to know the Libertarian platform that Gary Johnson is using for his run for POTUS. I am sure I don't agree with all of the Libertarian points but I'm hoping they are the "least worst" of my choices for president. Since I have no intention of voting for either candidate of the major parties, I'd like to learn more about Mr. Johnson and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. I'm sure I am not the only voter completely at sea as to where to place my vote. I'd appreciate your help. Thank you.

— Alice Merenbach

Price: That’s a fair request. We’ll keep our eyes open for profiles of those two. The top third-party candidates for president seem to generate voter curiosity, if not outright interest, every four years and I’ll guess that will be especially so this time.


Reader: I enjoyed reading Jennifer Self’s July 28 article, “When will it be ready?,” on the progress of the Haggard family boxcar. I lived next door to that boxcar in the 1950s. My family lived at 1307 Yosemite Drive on the north side of the Haggard home. Merle was about 4 or 5 years older than me, but I remember him hanging out in the alley behind our garage smoking cigarettes. Little did I know that that kid would grow up to be a global music icon.

I now live in Colleyville, Texas, but read the online Californian daily.

— Rod Longino

Price: Our coverage of Merle Haggard, who passed away this past April, has generated great volumes of traffic this year — probably more than anything else we’ve produced in 2016 — and out-of-state readers like you are a big reason why. Glad you enjoyed the story.


Reader: I enjoyed Dianne Hardisty’s article on the four women she noted as "political trail blazers” (”They, too, were first: Trailblazers reflect,” July 24). However, I was disappointed she didn't mention Dorothy Donahoe, who was one of only two women in the 1950s California Assembly and I believe the first woman elected to a state office from Kern County. She was respected on both sides of the political aisle.

I recall her handicap from polio led her to sponsor and get into law requirements that disabled and handicap children receive equal treatment and accommodations at school. But I believe her major accomplishment was the Donahoe/Miller bill, which set into motion the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which led to a free community college education and an admired college/university system open to all qualified students.

I hope in this political year of the woman TBC will do a complete article on the first female trailblazer.

— Sue Jennings

Price: Dorothy Donahoe most certainly needs to be listed among Kern’s most accomplished female elected officials, if not right at the top, but Dianne Hardisty’s article focused on living politicians. Donahoe’s life and important contributions have been noted in these pages before, however, and doubtlessly will be again.


Reader:  One of my favorite comics is Get Fuzzy. Do you know why they are running strips from 2008?

— Kerry McGill

Price: Get Fuzzy, written and drawn by Darby Conley since 1999, has been in full-on reruns since November 2013, and consequently many newspapers have discontinued the strip. We plan to join them soon. We’ll give readers a chance to weigh in on some options. Check back.

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 soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.

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