Sound Off

Sunday, Apr 28 2013 04:00 AM

SOUND OFF: 'Outgunned' headline draws a complaint

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    The Thursday, April 5, 2013 cover of The Bakersfield Californian.

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BY JOHN ARTHUR Californian Executive Editor jarthur@bakersfield.com

READER (Regarding Thursday's "Outgunned" headline over photos of Republican Congressional leaders Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor):

Terrible headline with all the gun violence today. Why did you use that headline... oh because they are Conservative/Republican?

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The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 661-395-7649 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.

I bet you would NEVER use that headline for a couple of liberals. You should have used that headline when (Sen.) Feinstein got SHOT DOWN last week with her stupid gun bills

— Mark Thompson

ARTHUR: Thanks for your note, and I appreciate the concern about headlines that unnecessarily use violent or gun-related language. In this case, however, the headline was a direct play on the "Young Guns" book that Reps. McCarthy, Cantor and Paul Ryan wrote, as mentioned in the photo caption. In fact this was a main point of the article,

The congressmen branded themselves as the Young Guns and have recruited others annually, but it appears there are more conservative members of Congress who are derailing some of their plans. "Outgunned" seemed appropriate. (See their website http://gopyoungguns.com/)

 

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ARTHUR: Much was made of the many media errors that cropped up during the hectic and live coverage of the Boston bombings, and in fact I spoke about the matter with Scott Cox on our new "First Look: KERN Radio/web TV program on Friday. April 19. (Here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpZvKOyNdtg)

We weren't immune, either.

At 10:56 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17, two days after the bombing, we sent out this Bakersfield Breaking News Alert:

AP source: Arrest imminent in marathon bombings

BOSTON -- A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation says a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is about to be arrested. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday. The official was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation.

The official says the suspect is to be taken into custody by federal marshals and taken to a Boston courthouse.

The next day we carried an editorial about media errors, prompting reader Ann Gallon to write editorial page editor Robert Price.

 

READER: I received (the above) email alert... (on) April 17.

Today's TBC editorial, April 18, "Our View: Media's errors shifted focus in wrong direction," read like finger-pointing at others without admitting to getting on the bandwagon, as well, with your Bakersfield.com alert.

— Ann Gallon

 

ARTHUR: Robert Price replied and I agree with what he said: "I can't say I wouldn't have sent out that news alert if it had been my job. Most of us have found the Associated Press to be pretty careful on these matters -- we trust that news organization more than any other.

"But everyone pretty much behaved like lemmings on this one. In the editorial, we didn't intend to point fingers at everyone but ourselves and the last line was intended to make that clear: We (emphasizing "we") almost got it right this time. Almost."

All of the questions you raise are fair questions. In this case the AP relied on one source (a big mistake. which the head of the AP later acknowledged) and got caught up in the moment. We quickly posted a subsequent AP story that backed off the claim.

This was at a time when CNN, most notably, was insisting there had been an arrest and NBC, most notably, was insisting there had not.

The news organizations that took their time and didn't make errors got it right.

I'm sorry we sent out what turned out to be misinformation.

 

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READER: You know people get upset when you tinker with the comics. For a month I have been looking forward to today's "Sally Forth"....every Easter she connives to eat the ears off her daughters chocolate bunny. So disappointed to find "Baldo" in it's place! A crappy strip that has previously been dumped by the Californian.

Please tell me this was a one time thing!

Sincerely,

— Kathy Eribarne

READER: I have a lot of thoughts about the recent change in the comics and it has taken me a while to think through what to say and even why. Sally Forth was a great strip to me. I looked forward every Sunday to reading it. The Easter season is always special due to the ongoing battle of the chocolate bunny.

It is your paper and you can change what you want when you want but to change it on the very day of the climax of the 2013 Easter bunny saga is just to me inexcusable.

I am like many, just an old guy and the world has passed me by or somehow I do not "get" Baldo, or any of the other new offerings. They are not to me comical. I am not going to cancel my subscription but I would have liked to have had a voice.

— Rick Isle

Bakersfield

 

ARTHUR: We appreciate the notes and we apologize for taking Sally Forth out of the paper at just the wrong time, at the finale of the annual Easter storyline. Big mistake by us.

As my boss, Richard Beene, noted in a reply to Rick Isle, the comics have always been a vexing problem for us; it is one of those "you can't please everybody" issues, and folks feel very strongly about what they like.

We do think that from time to time some new comics need to be introduced. We all hope they don't replace our favorites. In the past we have taken reader polls but we didn't do that this time.

 

On the web: Follow John Arthur on Twitter @BakoEditor

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