Did The Californian shoot and publish this photo to intentionally portray the local May Day as larger than it was?

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.

Reader: I just read your article about the Bakersfield High water tower (“Power to the tower: Museum needs funds for BHS landmark,” April 20.) I enjoyed it immensely. It brought back the memory of a night in 1981 when I climbed the tower and spray painted my moniker, “Krazy Keith Rules.” After I was done I surveyed the town of Bakersfield from up high, seeing other places I painted: the water tower off Golden State Highway, the church bell tower on Truxtun Avenue, the bathroom wall at BPD headquarters. Oh, the memories. Keep up the good articles.

— Krazy Keith

Robert Price: Even vandals get nostalgic. Who knew?

I shared your letter with Kelly Ardis, who wrote the story. Her response: “Wow! Jami Anderson, whom I talked to for that article, briefly mentioned a prolific Krazy Keith but since she wasn’t sure if it was ‘Krazy’ or ‘Crazy’ I decided not to include it for fear of getting his pseudonym wrong. Glad he caught and enjoyed the article!”

Reader: Am I the only one who has noticed the government is trying to kill us? For example ...

— No name published please

Reader: I am a very compassionate and tolerant person but not when it comes to illegal immigrants ...

I would appreciate you not using my name because I do not want to get phone calls!

— S.

Price: We get a couple of these letters every week and with rare exception they go straight into the round file. We don’t publish anonymous letters to the editor. If you’ve got an opinion that you think is important enough to share, you should be willing to put your name on it.

I’ve been doing it almost daily myself for longer than I care to admit. Number of harassing phone calls I’ve received in all that time: zero. (Letters are a different story — but then I invite them, sometimes literally.)

I can think of a couple of instances where a reader with too much time on his hands found a letter writer in the phone book and called her to argue, but I put a stop to it.

On several occasions I have put readers in touch with letter writers after getting permission from both parties and the results have always been positive.

So why, you might ask, have we published letters (or fragments of letters) in this column from Krazy Keith, “No name published please” and “S”? Because the purpose of Sound Off, generally speaking, is to let readers complain, praise or otherwise critique our coverage or treatment of the news, but not comment on the news itself. That’s for the letters section.

If someone has a valid point that we at The Californian should acknowledge in Sound Off, the writer’s identity matters less. (Krazy Keith stretches that definition, I realize.)

Reader: Interesting how the picture on the front page of your May 2 paper (“Calling for equality: Local marchers put own twist on May Day”) was taken very low in front of the crowd so as not to show how many people were actually there. They say 400. Don’t you believe it.

As their gig is coming to a close, Hispanics and other “freebie” groups are moved to hysteria and violence. Brings a tear to your eye, no señor?

— Gary Johns

Price: Charming, Gary.

I asked Henry Barrios, who took that front-page photo, about your allegation. His response:

“I think the entire online take of the event (with several additional photos) communicates what the event was like. Maybe 400 people, yes. When I’m covering something like this I’m taking a lot of things into consideration such as how the photos will publish in the paper, the play the pics get (section front or secondary) and online publishing. Most important is to give a truthful photographic portrayal of the news event.

“At one point I was at a high angle but the image never came together to communicate a huge amount of people. Four hundred people isn’t 4,000 people. The number of people wasn’t significant.

“On May 4 I covered the Day of Prayer event at the Liberty Bell. Maybe 200-250 people attended. Not a significant amount for me to think I had to show how many people were there.

“There was no attempt at deception in either situation.

”Sometimes only one or two people may attend an event and it could still be newsworthy.”

I’ll add to that. May Day demonstrations were taking place all over the country, and many of them were significantly bigger than the one in Bakersfield. Some readers, perhaps watching the evening network news, might wonder if any demonstrations took place locally, so it was important to show them, no matter what the size of the rally.

Reader: Thanks to Steven Mayer for his wonderful story about local hero Leon Thomas (“Decorated combat veteran learns of letter about him published in 1951,” April 30). Leon is a fellow veteran and longtime friend. His work with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, along with another local hero, David Jackson, has brought national recognition to our city and to our county’s exemplary history of military service to this great country.

Despite all the negativity in our world, it was nice to wake up to a story about a man who is not only a true hero, but also, one who I am fortunate to call a friend.

— David A. Torres

Reader: In your April 29 response in Sound Off to Janet Thomson regarding a previous letter to the editor that misrepresented details of the Republican Party fundraiser attended by Kevin McCarthy: You made the clarification that “regular tickets were priced $75 to $200, not $10,000 per plate, a distinction the letter did not make clear and we should have caught.” Yes, you absolutely should have caught this egregious error and a retraction should have been printed immediately by TBC. However, your approach accomplished your unabashed goal of besmirching the reputation of Congressman McCarthy with the usual “fake news.”

— Domenique Buck

Price: This seems like a good time and place to explain the difference between a retraction and a correction. A retraction is a much bigger deal: It changes or steps back from the main point of the original story. A correction leaves the main point of the story intact, addressing only a lesser detail or details.

The main point of the writer’s April 24 letter, “Marching to McCarthy’s house,” was that McCarthy should be able to find the time to meet with concerned constituents if he can find the time to meet with supporters at fundraisers. In the course of trying to make that point, however, the letter writer created the impression that it was a $10,000-per-plate fundraiser, when in fact that ticket price was merely the top tier.

We would not (and could not) retract a letter writer’s opinion about McCarthy’s alleged lack of availability, but we would (and did) correct the erroneous ticket-price reference. And I’ve just done so again.

Now, if I could just make clear the difference between “fake news” (intentional disinformation) and mistakes.

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 voicemail 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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