Beat goes on

There’s an inherent risk that runs with each story we do. And while there is fallout from many, they seldom result in the loss of advertising and/or paper distribution points. A month after we ran a story and photos about a woman who sells sex toys at home “Passion Parties,” the consequences linger. Look at our letters to the editor this week. And get this: the interim director of the Chico Area Recreation District told us he doesn’t want our paper distributed at the CARD offices anymore. At first I thought the objections to the story and photographs were coming from only a few disgruntled community members and advertisers; I was wrong. It’s much greater than that. We’ve bruised the sensitivities of a good number of people and therefore it is a subject I have to address, again.

It is highly unusual for the editorial department of a newspaper to involve itself in any way with the matters of advertising. Editorial mixing with advertising suggests the existence of a quid pro quo as in “Take out an ad and we’ll write a nice story about you.” This policy of division between the two departments is common throughout the industry (or at least should be) and is employed as a way to establish integrity and credibility with our readers. By the same token, if we hide behind that wall of division between advertising and editorial and use it as an excuse for publishing potentially offensive material—in this case, I think it was the photos—there is sometimes going to be a strong reaction. If we in editorial have learned anything from publishing the Passion Parties story back on Nov. 3 (other than the fact its fallout is not dissipating), it is the recognition of our arrogance in failing to consider local community standards. We are not putting out a paper in San Francisco.

This is not an apology, just an acknowledgment that we’ve ruffled some feathers and embarrassed some people. We will continue to run the risk of losing readers and advertisers. Comes with the territory. But in the future we’ll pay more attention to possible consequences. In other words: no more dildo photos.

With all the fallout we’ve had from the Passion Parties story, I take this risk: What is it about Trader Joe’s that would make the presidents of the local state university and community college show up for the grand opening ribbon cutting? Do they sell college textbooks there? I mean, even the normally cynical and morose CN&R News Editor Josh Indar has gone ga-ga with thought of the Joe’s impending arrival. “Cheap liquor,” he keeps saying. I doubt that’s why Chico State President Paul Zingg is there with oversized scissors in hand. He’s probably more interested in the artichoke-olive-pesto dip. “Don’t forget the holiday brie with cranberries and walnuts.” Indar weirdly insists.

I got a call and an e-mail from some folks this week telling me that UPN 21’s So you Want to be a Star show is indeed filmed before a live audience. I was invited to attend—it’s taped on Monday and Tuesday nights. I couldn’t make it but appreciated the invite. I went online ( and found out more about the show, including this: “All participants that have been convicted on prior felonies will not be allowed to audition and will not be considered for this competition.” That’s fine, but how can you be one of the “participants” if you’re not allowed to audition or compete? And can you be convicted of anything other than a “prior” felony? What about enemy combatants? Assuming, that is, that they can get some time off from their incarcerations in Guntamamo Bay or those secret prisons we’re running in Eastern Europe. Can they participate? They haven’t been convicted of anything. They haven’t even been charged. They are just serving time.