August 31—Reader: First, let me say that I respect and admire the work you do for The Californian. You had big shoes to fill, and you filled them well. That said, though, I have to say you really screwed it up in the September 2022 issue of Bakersfield Life.
The issue’s cover identifies the issue as “The Women’s Issue”. Your editor’s note states that you “feature this issue focused on women and women in business.” And yet, your cover story “Local Lawyers Spotlight” features two male lawyers and firms where there are very few or no female lawyers. I am much less apt than my friends to notice the implicit bias inherent in the lack of representation of women and people of diverse backgrounds; however, the inclusion of mostly white male lawyers in the local lawyers section was remarkable even to me.
Please understand that my review has nothing to do with the lawyers featured in your lawyer profiles. They are good lawyers. However, it is very ironic to see so many male lawyers in this “Women’s Issue”. Apparently, you didn’t realize that the current president of the Kern County Bar Association is a lawyer, Xochitl Garcia, as is the outgoing president, Alekxia Torres Stallings.
Wouldn’t a photo of them have been ideal for this particular issue which aims to focus on women and businesswomen and spotlight local lawyers? There are also many women lawyers in town, practicing in various areas of law. There is more to the legal profession than civil litigation, which is the area in which all of the attorneys listed in your attorney profiles practice.
It would also have been nice to have included a female lawyer in the “Perspectives on Women’s Success” article, because female lawyers in private practice are businesswomen. Additionally, three of Bakersfield’s government law firms are headed by women – Kern County Attorney Margo Raison, Bakersfield City Attorney Virginia Gennaro, and Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. .
I hope the next time you decide to dedicate an issue to women, you will think of the women in our local legal profession.
— Sincerely, Susan M. Gill
Reader: I was instantly disappointed when I opened the newspaper on Saturday morning to see the Bakersfield Life proclaiming it to be the women’s issue…and yet two guys were on the cover! And, to add insult to injury, articles about women have been relegated to the back half of the magazine.
I think at best it shows that the layout was particularly tone-deaf, but more so it shows a perhaps unconscious disregard for the huge impact of women on our community…we are referred to “the back of the bus” by this layout. For once, you should have put those overpriced lawyers and their ads behind the stories featuring Bakersfield women and their accomplishments.
— Jenell Mahoney
Reader: I’ve enjoyed the magazine since it went to print and I’ve never been more disappointed than today. So much so that I had to write to you. “The question of women”? Yet the cover has two lawyers on it. Who cares about the lawyers in this town but the lawyers themselves? Having been through a divorce and also self-employed for over 28 years, I have been verbally abused, exploited, disrespected, ripped off financially and generally think that lawyers are the worst our society has to offer. They prey on those who have no knowledge or experience of our joke of a legal system and charge whatever they want. Needless to say, I hate lawyers.
So when I saw this issue indulge these self-centered people, it obviously struck a chord. This issue was to honor our successful women in the community, I thought. I won’t even watch it. It goes straight to the trash can where it belongs. Do better! If your magazine hadn’t been free and put in my Saturday paper, I wouldn’t even have looked at it from now on.
Reader: It was not just my wife and I who noticed the irony of the choice of the cover photo for the latest issue of Bakersfield Life which purports to be “women’s issue”, but which features the photo of two white male professionals middle-aged. In place! I would have thought that one or more of the successful women celebrated in this issue would have been a much better choice for the cover photo and would have been far more progressive than one might have expected from the stereotypical patriarchal Bakersfield. I’m just saying…
— Thank you, Robert M. Yohe II, Ph.D., RPA
Reader: I have just opened my journal and see that September’s Bakersfield Life is titled “The Women’s Issue” second. I also see that the cover of the issue consists of two men. Shouldn’t a female issue include at least one female person on the cover?
— Disappointed reader Sandra Goins
Reader: September 2022 issue. The question of women. Cover photo: two male lawyers. Oh good? Oh good? A major mistake and a thumbs up to all the wonderful women in Bakersfield.
Reader: I thought it was humorous and hard to understand why TBC chose to call this month’s issue of Bakersfield Life The Women’s Issue. With two guys on the cover. We have a female mayor and a female DA. If, suppose, we were to choose two local female leaders for this month’s cover. Maybe two lawyers. Maybe.
Reader: I’ve just been given this month’s Bakersfield Life magazine and the first thing that came to mind before I opened it was that it’s The Women’s Issue, but the cover featured two men.
— Sincerely, Sybil Pearce
Reader: I just wanted to draw your attention to a clear error in judgment and a serious misstep by your publication. Am I seeing this correctly? Your September issue is called “The Women’s Issue,” but the cover photo is of two middle-aged white men in suits? How could this surveillance even be possible?
Given that you are a female executive, I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you about the struggles of a male-dominated business world, but actions like this show how much we still have a long way to go. I’m not even a woman and I’m still quite surprised by this shameful and egregious lack of diversity and inclusion.
I would seriously amend this error if possible, or at least start preparing a public apology for the backlash, as this matter is already blowing up on social media.
— Disappointed, Steve Brandon
Reader: While I appreciate a magazine issue dedicated to women, it was very off-putting to see two men on the cover of this issue. If you chose to feature local lawyers, I’m sure you could have found some great women to feature. It would have been more in line with the message you detailed in the editor’s note: “Women should take the time to uplift, praise, inspire, compliment and mentor other women.”
— Sincerely, Joanne Carrillo
Peterson: Thank you to all of those above, and others, for taking the time to write and voice your concerns.
The September issue of Bakersfield Life, which appeared in the August 27 edition of The Bakersfield Californian, had two main themes: women’s issues and lawyer profiles.
Everything but lawyer profiles was reported, written, compiled and created by news and reporting staff, freelancers and columnists to celebrate the extraordinary and accomplished women in our community. We all know there are many more than have been included in this issue. But you have to start somewhere with recognition! As I read the stories our staff have written, I see that there are even more wonderful women in our community that I would love to meet.
Lawyer profiles are paid advertisements. These pages are labeled “promotional content” and are not created by the press team. These are pieces sold by advertising reps, and any lawyer or company could have purchased one. This includes the ability to buy the cover, which an advertiser did. As such, the advertiser decides who is in the photo, subject to certain technical specifications such as what will go on the cover and will always include space for titles. (And yes, I absolutely know that there are also some amazing women who are lawyers.)
It’s similar to the advertisements you see in newspapers. An advertiser can purchase the “ad strip” position at the bottom of the home page. An advertiser can also buy the position in the top right corner of the home page. Such a purchase does not affect anything else in the newspaper reported and written by our staff, trusted freelancers and news agencies. It’s the same with the magazine.
I appreciate our readers and our advertisers, who help pay the bills.
I also appreciate the opportunity to explain the difference to people who have inquired. All the readers whose letters are printed above have responded graciously to my communications with them and have agreed to have their letters published. But I am deeply saddened by the vitriol I have suffered over the past four days from those who have chosen to attack, especially on social media, rather than inquire.
Managing Editor Christine Peterson answers your questions and takes your complaints about The Californian’s news coverage in this comment forum. Questions can be edited for more space and clarity. To offer your contribution over the phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail or email us at [email protected] Please enter your name and phone number; your phone number will not be published.