A bear of a message | VailDaily.com

A bear of a message

Don Rogers

The overwhelming majority of the calls to the paper have been requests for copies of the photograph shot by chief photographer Quentin Hunstad. We had enough calls that our marketing department developed an advertisement for the picture.

So far, just two people have expressed some outrage at the double message they see in marketing a cute picture of a bear (and humans) doing what they should not.

One was an early anonymous phone call, the caller a man absolutely beside himself at the venality of that evil press encouraging people to play with the wildlife. Or something like that.

The other came as a well-reasoned letter we plan to print later this week taking the paper to task for, well, encouraging humans to view bears as something akin to cute pets, and bears to view human habitation as a restaurant.

What set the letter writer off was a story Saturday about the dangers and growing problem with bears visiting humans on page A2, and the cute ad offering the picture for sale on A20.

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We were criticized, perhaps rightly, for sending a mixed message about the proper places of man and bruin. Our question is this: Do you really want a paper that thinks out a specific message, a way the collective it wants you to think? Really?

Life itself is mixed, and richer if more irritating at time for it. We aren’t of one mind or perspective at your community paper, and neither is any other paper west of Moscow.

The news section covers others’ points of view and conclusions, advertising carries messages bought by businesses hoping to catch your eye and eventually sell you something, this space carries our perspective (or at least the editor’s), and marketing thinks much like other businesses aiming to get their names out there.

So the messages are myriad, not hardly in any line or intended pattern of what we on the editorial pedestal think you should think.

Against this backdrop of people eager to get their hands on a cute picture and people concerned that the picture only inspires people to the wrong things – the Division of Wildlife bought a copy. Why?

They thought the picture was a perfect illustration of what happens when you hang a hummingbird feeder in a place too accessible to the bruins. In other words, they viewed the photo as instructive.

What do we think? Well, we think that readers are smart enough to appreciate a photo for its aesthetic qualities and understand that it’s not a great idea for humans or bears to hang yummies where these gorgeous animals can reach them. Yes, there are stupid people – but a picture won’t change that, alas. D.R.

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