Thursday, August 12, 2004
I was recently disappointed by your rejection of a pro-life advertisement that I supported. The ad consisted of a picture of a baby of around thirty weeks in the womb with a byline urging citizens to protect the rights of all Americans. There was no finger-pointing or inflammatory rhetoric attacking anyone. Yet we were told that some of your readers would be too offended by the ad, in particular the picture.
I find it ironic that the Weekly would be concerned about offending readers, especially after years of seeing the kind of shots you deliver through your articles and Squid columns.
Even more recently, I came across the publication of a picture of a preborn baby in an ad for ultrasonography services in your paper. The picture, which was strikingly similar to ours, apparently was not too offensive in this other context. You are obviously not comfortable with portraying any soul-searching and thought-provoking dissents to your leftist world view.While I respect your right to publish what you like, I also think you owe it to your readers to be honest about your bias and your rejection of the principle of a serious, as opposed to token, diversity of opinion in a community publication.
The Weekly’s Publisher Responds
The ad was not rejected because of its political message. Discussion and dissent about abortion and abortion rights is a topic this newspaper has covered for the last 15 years. If fact, we’ve published both pro-life and abortion rights ads in these pages.
After getting the ad, I did tell the client that a sonogram of a 30-week old fetus in the context of an anti-abortion ad was offensive and inflammatory. I said many times that we would be happy to run his ad and deliver his pro-life message to our readers with a different photograph.
That offer was repeatedly declined by the client.
In our line of work we frequently come across images that don’t meet our standards for publication and, as in this case, we try and work with customers to find a solution. Our readers will note that unlike many alternative papers (and the Yellow Pages), Monterey County Weekly chooses not to publish display ads for escorts.The offer to run a revised ad still stands, and I suspect that Mr. Bunn would find that, from a marketing standpoint, his message would be received much more positively if he would take my advice and not work so hard to offend the readers of the Weekly.
Steinbeck Would Have Protested
John Steinbeck may have been “the greatest champion the American worker has ever known,” but I doubt that many working people—especially Salinas farmworkers—will have attended the $17 lectures, $60 walking tours, and equally expensive dinners held this weekend in his name. It is too bad that the Steinbeck Festival organizers have chosen to ignore what, according to Eric Johnson’s interesting article, was the writer’s principal virtue: his sympathy with and moral outrage over the plight of America’s poor.
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