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 to the paper for many years. I always make a point to read the Sound Off section every week. I am beginning to wonder what has happened to the people of our community. Why has everyone become so negative? Of course we are not going to agree with everything you print in the paper. Given all the chaos in the world I am sure your job is not an easy one.
So, to all the people who moan and criticize that you don't print what they want to hear, I say just read the feel-good stories. There is always more than one of those in the paper daily. Whatever happened to the old adage, if you don't have anything good to say don't say anything at all. I look forward to the delivery of the paper each morning for the enjoyment of finding the best story of the day. Keep on doing what you are doing; you are never going to please everyone.
— Leslyn Knight
Price: Our little corner of California has an infinite supply of uplifting stories and we try to get to as many of them as we can. One of my recent favorites was Charmaine Cleveland's story about the Korean War veteran whose lawn mower — a primary source of income — was apparently stolen. His wife, just days away from open heart surgery, wrote a letter to the editor describing the situation and our readers responded with cash, good wishes and at least one lawn mower.
Another is Steven Mayer's story in today's Californian about Tommy Hays, the veteran Bakersfield Sound-era guitarist who was honored in a special way Friday night at CALM's annual HolidayLights display.
The nation has become so polarized, it's no wonder the tone of conversation, letters to the editor, Facebook posts, etc., has become so strident. As engaged citizens we have a responsibility to fight through it and pay attention to public discourse. But it's nice to be able to escape in the direction of good news once in a while.
Reader: I'm a subscriber and read the paper (on paper) every day. The funnies — yeah, guess I'm dating myself here — are what I look forward to the most. I save them for last. I just realized today that they've been juggled around with no warning within the past couple of days and Get Fuzzy is gone and Dennis the Menace has been brought back.
Is something up with Get Fuzzy? I noticed a while back that there were some reruns for a while — election season themed — but still pertinent. It would be nice if you posted a notice of the changes and the reason when they're made. Maybe you did and I missed it?
Anyway, I'm very sad it's gone and I hope you can bring it back. I'll miss Bucky's rants. And why Dennis? Talk about a rerun!
— Susan Clarke-Romero
Reader: Happy Thanksgiving! Quick question: What happened to the comic strip Bizarro? It looks like it was replaced by Dennis the Menace.
— David Norris
Price: After at least a year of deliberation, we decided to drop Get Fuzzy for the very reason you suggest, Susan. In 2011, Get Fuzzy began to incorporate more and more reprinted strips into its daily rotation until, by November 2013, it consisted entirely of strips from previous years.
In October 2013, citing readers' unhappiness with the reruns, the Washington Post dropped Get Fuzzy. The Seattle Times did the same in March 2014, telling readers it was "because the creator is no longer producing new installments."
We pulled a three-way swap, moving an old favorite, Dennis the Menace, into the spot formerly occupied by Bizarro, and moving a strip version of Bizarro into the spot formerly occupied by Get Fuzzy. The three-way move was necessary because Dennis only comes in a panel version during the week and Bizarro has both panel and strip options.
Sorry — I should have announced this move earlier this month, but I found myself fully occupied by that big political thing that took place Nov.8.
We chose Dennis as a nod to readers who prefer the classic strips but have seen them disappear, one by one (including some of my favorites!), as new ones enter the marketplace of comics. Dennis the Menace, by the way, has been around since 1951. Creator Hank Ketcham died in 2001; the comic is now written and drawn by his former assistants, Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand. It's published in 48 countries and 19 languages.
I'm with you on Bizarro, Dave. It's a must-have.
Reader: You wrote a masterful summary of the role of the media in that botched election ("Trump played the national media like a champ," Nov. 12). My only question: When did you start to figure that all out? In my (unpublished) letter to Opinion the other day, I suggested that I had refrained from writing about Trump. And that's true. What I should have written about, early, was the complicity of the media in his successful promotion. It was obvious to me from the get-go that free publicity mattered.
So Trump was right about the importance of the media. It's only that he misrepresented the direction its influence would take.
Another thing he must have been right about is his claim (now forgotten) that the system is rigged. It had to be rigged for this outcome to be possible!
My greatest fear right now is that his supporters will start to feel as disappointed as the rest of us. Those true believers who believed that he would put Hillary in jail should be feeling a major disappointment already. Many more lie ahead. If any followers have the wish to compare promises with results, there will be turmoil.
— Larry Dunn
Price: I've been writing about Trump, the media and their enabling/adversarial relationship for a while, but I didn't put it all together very succinctly or coherently until it was over.
But I tried. Most recently, from Oct. 20: "Since when do newspapers have to portion out news so that no one person gets more negative press than another? ... When people make news, media organizations report it, and nobody has generated more news more regularly in this campaign than Donald Trump — and that’s largely by his own design."
For news organizations that cover national politics — The Californian, with rare exceptions, does not — it must have been difficult knowing that real news, whether positive or negative toward Trump, was sucked into this confounding vortex of semi-relevance.
Reader: As counterpoint to recent reader concerns, I offer the opinion that The Californian is far too right leaning, uncritical of Kevin McCarthy, uncritical of the oil and agricultural industries, wrong on recreational marijuana, and that it caved to gun interests by not publishing the names of those within the KHSD who, with very little training, will be carrying guns among our students.
However, I will not be canceling my subscription for the following reasons:
• Lois Henry is fearless, and a very good writer who breaks down complex topics such as the myriad water agreements that impede effective conservation, or even commensurate pricing. She also shines a bright light on entities and public officials such as those within the KHSD.
• Although I am not religious, Valerie Schultz, also fearless, writes beautifully about the topic to help me better understand my thoughtful Bakersfield neighbors who are.
• Herb Benham in the course of a few columns will cover playing tennis at the Playboy mansion, visiting India, and walking home from Rosedale Automotive, and make all three sound equally interesting. In the immortal words of The Waco Kid, “what's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?”
• Pete Tittl celebrates Bakersfield’s diversity by being equally effusive and knowledgeable in his praise of warm samosas, handmade corn tortillas, and locally owned hamburger restaurants.
• Robert Price has the patience of Job to walk the razor's age of trying to sell a newspaper, masterfully explaining or defending the paper's or its writers’ perspective, and serving the overall purpose of helping us be an informed citizenry.
I, for one, will be sad when The Californian finally ceases and we all turn to bespoke blogs that echo our own personal points of view.
— Chris Costa
Price: Thanks for noticing, Chris. But just to put your mind at ease, The Californian isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Reader: I always enjoy the photos frequently published in The Californian, such as the Nov. 20 "Colors of Fall in Hart Park" by Casey Christie. Thanks to your fine photographers, we are reminded to count our blessings for the wonderful area we live in. Keep up the good work.
— Hal Bopp
Price: Casey is a municipal treasure, no question, but just one member of a world-class photo staff. Thanks for reminding us.
Reader: Congratulations! You fielded the complainers with great skill and restraint. I honestly don't know how you keep from just shouting something unkind.
I read somewhere that fake news is "Angelina leaving Brad for space alien." "3,000 illegals vote for Hillary" is propaganda. Just saying.
— Pam Wildermuth
Price: Yes, it has occurred to me, too, that we've settled on an unjustifiably benign term, "fake news," for the borderline criminal act of intentionally attempting to sway minds — minds that vote — with knowing falsehoods. The First Amendment sets us apart from the world, but it's got a dark side.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.