Sound Off

Sunday, Dec 02 2012 02:00 AM

Sikh sword photo cuts both ways

By The Bakersfield Californian

READER: Mr. Arthur, did you see the irony of the file photo The Californian ran with the Sikh story on Saturday (Nov. 24)?

With a story about overcoming stereotypes and a lead about the "Sikh worshipers gunned down," don't you think a different photo other than a Sikh holding a sword would be in order? You know the sword is ceremonial. Others know it is ceremonial. But if you're running a story about the majority of Americans not being familiar with Sikh culture, maybe a photo of a business owner or farmer would have been a better choice. That guy looks like he's ready to behead somebody. Not the aim of the story, eh?

Related Info

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.

-- Larry Elman

ARTHUR: Good question. I asked Asst. Photo Editor Michael Fagans to respond:

The short answer is that we often run photos of people from various ethnic groups wearing and carrying identifiable clothing and objects from their own culture. The file photo was from the Nagar Kirtan celebration in Bakersfield and there were a number of other images that the editor could have selected from that event that might have raised more or similar questions.

The longer answer is that there is implicit and explicit information that the photographer provides the reader within the frame. In this case I believe it is safe for the reader to assume that the swords in the photograph are ceremonial because of the caption information provided. The demeanor and facial expression of the subject also lend weight to reading the image this way.

Could a different photograph have illustrated the story in a better way, as Mr. Elman suggests? Quite possibly.

***

READER: I'm commenting on the Sound Off question: When is it Hispanic and when is it Latino?

First and foremost, anybody who is born in the United States is, of course, American.

Secondly, a person born in the United States who has parents, grandparents and so on with ties, culture, whatever from a Latin American country that is a Hispanic.

The umbrella term of Latino or Latina for man and woman is OK to use. It's fine to use it. I prefer that, but I can tell you that somebody from Guatemala or San Salvador, somebody born there, somebody born in Mexico, somebody born in Brazil, any Latin American country, if that person is born in that country they are of that nationality. You cannot be Hispanic.

This is how I was taught for years and years. Hispanic is only somebody born in the United States of Latin heritage. A Mexican born in Mexico is not Hispanic. A Guatemalan, San Salvadoran, somebody born in that country is not Hispanic.

-- Margie Casado

***

READER: I'm really getting very tired of reading about this Valley Fever thing. I've had it and it's no big deal. It keeps coming out in your paper. There's something else wrong with these people. It's no big deal. I really don't get it. It's actually beginning to make me a little angry that it's in your paper all the time. It's not a big deal! Like I said I've had it. It was no big deal. Now they're paying thousands and thousands of dollars to people -- big whiny babies.

-- Larry Marcel

ARTHUR: It's a disease that afflicts thousands Our stories have been revealing and groundbreaking. We're trying to make the rest of the country notice. It's a big deal. This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about news coverage. Your questions -- which may be edited for space -- are answered each Sunday by Executive Editor John Arthur. On the web

Follow John Arthur on Twitter @BakoEditor

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