Letters for November 30, 2006

Smut-peddling joke …

Re “Live nude girls” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, November 16):

This publication is known as a progressive alternative to other news sources. This last issue was introduced via a slutty woman sprawled on the cover, which sunk the publication to a smut-peddling joke.

Hopefully, the editors will return to informative articles on important socio-economic and political issues rather than inflated articles about strippers. The reading public endures the sex peddling offered in the classifieds, but it is reserved for the last pages. I can skip that part and still expect intelligent material, reviews and local announcements. However, by putting gratuitous, sexist images on the front of your last cover, I didn’t bother to pick it up at all this week.

Laura Sheridan

… or smut-peddling review?

Re “Live nude girls” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, November 16):

After reading this issue, it’s apparent the mission of SN&R has clearly evolved away from providing an alternative to the mainstream news. Actual news stories, like Seth Sandronsky’s investigative article on the devaluation of education and corporatization of the university at CSUS (“Class struggle,” SN&R News, November 16) are given short-shrift and clearly hacked to a paltry page and a half. The story on lap-dancing nude girls is given seven pages. Add to this the gratuitous cover and the six pages of advertising in the back of the paper, and you clearly have a new set of priorities for SN&R. Perhaps it should renamed “Sacramento Smut Review.”

Kevin Wehr

Labor—not lap dancing—is the issue

Re “Live nude girls” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, November 16) and “Class struggle” by Seth Sandronsky (SN&R News, November 16):

As a professor of women’s studies who frequently reads, writes and lectures about the pros and cons of women’s sex work, I couldn’t help but laugh at the unlikely juxtapositions in last week’s SN&R.

You relegated a very timely article about our labor struggle in the CSUS—in which I was quoted—to the backburner, while gratuitously featuring a pornographic cover photo and an article that is not close to reaching the kind of savvy open-minded porn journalism that’s out there. It was empty of original insight and it treated women’s changing labor conditions at the clubs as an afterthought. That’s the angle that really matters: the labor conditions.

If we don’t improve the situation at CSUS and in the CSU system more generally, I guess we can look forward to more examples of lowest-common-denominator editorial decisions in the future. Our students are your future readers, writers and editors.

Michelle Renee Matisons

TV times, they are a-changin’

Re “Return Mr. Rogers!” (SN&R Editorial, November 16):

As the father of two pre-school girls (and a KVIE employee), I too was saddened to hear that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had been pulled from the schedule. I grew up watching him and hoped that my daughters would find him as engaging, entertaining and comforting as I did when I was their age.

Alas, ’twas not to be. Sesame Street (also 30-plus years old) has held my older daughter’s interest just fine. But even when I would try to engage her while watching Mister Rogers—“Look, sweetie, it’s Purple Panda!”—she would inevitably lose interest midway through.

For better or worse, times have changed. The media landscape is not what it was when Fred Rogers’ revolutionary program first appeared on national television. Kids have many more options now. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but if the kids aren’t tuning in to Mister Rogers, it simply doesn’t make sense to keep running his programs for nostalgia’s sake.

Our programs are made possible—as we say often enough—by “Viewers Like You.” And if Viewers Like You (or Your Kids) aren’t watching, we try to respond by providing programming that serves the same educational purposes while drawing more viewers. The new Curious George series, which I was initially skeptical about, is a good example. My kids love it, and I feel like they’re getting some good life lessons out of it.

And in case you think I’m simply waging a PR campaign for the station, rest assured that there are a few kids’ shows—in particular a big red one—that I wouldn’t miss if they suddenly vanished from the schedule.

Oh, and if you really want to see what Fred Rogers did for this country, check out this YouTube posting: www.youtube.com/watch?v=a41lJIhW7fA. Any fan of his should see the impact he had not just on children’s programming, but on public broadcasting in general. Trust me, it’ll bring tears to your eyes.

J. Greenberg

Mourning Gary

Re “What killed Gary?” by Kel Munger (SN&R Words, November 16):

I appreciated Kel Munger’s review of Nick Shou’s new book regarding Gary Webb’s career and the tragic end of his life. Shou’s book and Munger’s review clarify what Webb actually wrote and reported, and the price he paid.

Depression is a desperate condition and rendered Webb incapable of continuing to defend his work and to re-establish his career. Sadly, there is no redress.

Sharon Goodnight

You get what you ask for

Re “Transit tales” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, November 9):

SN&R’s reporter rode Sacramento’s public transit for three weeks and acknowledges she saw nothing untoward during that time. However, when she asked passengers to describe the oddest people and incidents they had seen on the bus or light rail, they produced accounts of odd people and events.

If one asked automobile drivers to describe the oddest people and events they observed on Sacramento streets and highways, this would have produced a similar litany of weird people and events, perhaps with more of an element of risk or physical danger. There is also great likelihood that some drivers were in recovery or still using with a greater risk to the public than if they rode public transit.

I am not saying that SN&R’s reporter was biased or that the people and incidents described are fictional. I am saying that if you ask people about odd things they’ve seen over a period of years, they will produce interesting stories sufficient to fill an article that gives no idea of the frequency of these incidents or how often they occur in other settings.

Bob Sommer

Like clubbing a manatee

Re “Rites of passage” by Christine Craft (SN&R Essay, November 9):

I can’t express how underwhelmed I was by Christine Craft’s essay. What a brilliantly contrived piece of investigative journalism. It’s difficult to imagine how the curious public, clamoring as we do for ever more insightful and incisive stories and things to fear or loathe, could have languished another day without her bland exposé of the inner workings of yet another obscure and innocuous men’s group.

I’m not sure what the purpose of the “infiltration” was, or what particular advantages there were in dressing up a woman as a man to obtain information that could have been collected by a male snitch sent in to do the same thing. There are, after all, no shortages of men or women who would be willing to sell out their gender for a good SN&R tell-all piece. The choice to not use a man underscores the underlying, unmistakable aura of mistrust of men that was the basis for her article in the first place.

Also evident was a tacit thread of glee permeating the undercover use of a woman to get the information. Considering how little revelation there was forthcoming from the disclosures of the covert operation, it is more likely that Ms. Craft was motivated by the intrigue and naughty thrill she and her (probably hirsute) friend garnered from sneaking into the boys’ forbidden tree house than she was in enlightening us to yet another “be-testicled” malevolent presence in the world. But really now, considering the nature of the group upon which this operation was carried out, I can’t think of a less productive effort, unless perhaps you were to consider clubbing a manatee with an oar.

Perhaps her next piece will involve using a man to infiltrate the National Organization for Women. Now I’d pay to read that. And it would be easier, given the physical makeup of the crowd, since there would probably be less need to obscure his gender to obtain results.

D. Mace
Elk Grove