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I've looked at clouds from both sides now 

"New Times is such a liberal rag, a leftwing propaganda apparatchik! Only good for wrapping old fish and lining birdcages!"

"New Times is such a rightwing white noise machine! Close-mindedly goose-stepping toward fascism!"

This, gentle readers, is how I know we're doing something right! Everyone thinks we're wrong, unfair, or obfuscating the truth any time they read anything they disagree with! Well get over it! New Times has always worked hard to air all points of view and offer all sides of a story.

Take reporter Karen Garcia's story "Concerned parents" (Aug. 29) on California's Senate Bill 277, which eliminates personal belief exceptions for vaccines. Even though about 75 percent of the story chronicled parents' objections to the law or their claims that vaccinations are dangerous compared to the 25 percent that offered the government's assertions that vaccinations are in fact safe, that didn't stop anti-vaxxers' heads from exploding!

Garcia, who used first names of interview subjects to protect their privacy, got a letter from her subject, "Nicole," who in the story took up fully half of it with her opinions. Nicole wrote Garcia to say it was "sad to see so much of the text devoted to Pharma propaganda that vaccines are safe, injury is rare, and safety studies are rigorous."

Um, Nicole, that's the way reporting works. You get to have your say and then the other side gets to have their say, and hopefully the reading public can figure out which side is rational and which side listens to 1993 Playboy magazine Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy. We report, you decide.

There are people who literally can't get vaccines because of serious medical conditions, and these people depend on herd immunity—the idea that they're safe because everyone who can get vaccinated does, thus reducing the risk of, say, a measles outbreak at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth.

Herd immunity isn't government or Big Pharma propaganda; it's science! There are desperate parents all over the world who wish they could afford to vaccinate their children, but here in the U.S., thanks to the success of vaccinations, some of us have forgotten what polio does to a child.

I don't know if anti-vaxxers believe in the World Health Organization (WHO), or if they think they're part of the so-called vaccination conspiracy, but WHO estimates vaccines have prevented more than 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015. I know you have an agenda, Nicole, but Garcia's story would have been a disservice to our readers if it had ignored pro-vaccination arguments.

Last week, New Times reporter Kasey Bubnash wrote the cover story "What's up with downtown?" (Sept. 5), which examined the tensions between longtime residents and the city's focus on catering to students and tourists. She wrote about closing businesses, the frustrations of groups like Save Our Downtown, and the city's attempts to encourage a downtown that welcomes everyone.

Bubnash also interviewed Bettina Swigger, CEO of the Downtown SLO Association, letting her have her say, but that didn't stop Swigger from writing to complain, "New Times, what gives? This cover story didn't hit the mark. Your office is downtown. You know what's going on. Businesses come, and businesses go. After lengthy careers, people deserve to retire. And in a free market, sometimes businesses aren't successful. That's the breaks.

"And while it is true that there are some vacancies downtown, there's a much more compelling story to be told about how downtown San Luis Obispo is thriving," Swigger continued. "In fact, since January, more than 30 new businesses opened in downtown San Luis Obispo. Astonishingly, 20 of those are LOCALLY-OWNED."

Um, yeah, that's why Bubnash quoted YOU in the article saying that VERY THING! You got to do your job and talk up how great downtown SLO is, and other people got to air their criticisms and concerns. It's called "reporting."

"Could we shine a light on how our local community supports those businesses?" Swigger asked. "Boo Boo Records celebrates its 45th anniversary this year."

Yes, we could! In fact, we did! New Times music columnist Glen Starkey wrote all about Boo Boo's anniversary in "Be independent" (Aug. 22). Ms. Swigger, it's not New Times' job to be a cheerleader for downtown. That's your job! Our job is to report on what's going on in the community, like the fact that the old Rileys Department Store building on the corner of Marsh and Chorro has been empty for years!

Listen, people, when you open New Times, you might find yourself reading something you disagree with, like this column or anything Al Fonzi happens to cut and paste from Breitbart News Network or the Drudge Report. Don't panic! Take a deep breath. Just because New Times lets Fonzi palaver on about right-wing histrionics doesn't mean we're a right wing newspaper. It means we're a newspaper that publishes diverse opinions.

Feel free to write a letter to the editor. If it's not stupid or filled with lies, maybe we'll publish it, and then someone out there can read your opinion and assume that New Times agrees with you, which we don't ... unless we do, which is for you to guess at and us to know. Δ

The Shredder doesn't really know clouds at all. Send ideas and comments to


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