Alert Half Moon Bay Review reader Steve Thornton writes:
The ad for real estate agents on Page 5B of the Nov. 26 issue features a man playing with a dog on a beach. The dog is not only unleashed, it doesn’t even have a collar (so, obviously no license, either). …
Does the man have a point?
I’m not sure, to be honest. It’s a house ad, which means the fault, if any, lies with us here at the newspaper and not any particular advertiser. Publisher Bill Murray notes that we’ve been using that photo for years. It accurately reflects the way some folks use the beach. (Scofflaws!) We didn’t set it up; we just recorded what was going on and used that photo in a house ad.
Count me on the fence, I guess. I think we can agree there are greater crimes than allowing your dog to romp off-leash. It was merely meant to create the image of a fun, care-free place to live. What if we had a similar ad suggesting readers patronize local car dealers, and used a photo of a driver who was unbuckled. Would that be wrong, too?
I was happy to print Thornton’s letter and I think a bit of constructive criticism is healthy. It’s one of the things that makes what we do special. We take as well as we give, and most businesses don’t even pretend that is so.
What do you think? Should we have anticipated that reaction and picked another photo? Should we apologize? Should we include an editor’s note with the letter – or not run it at all? I’m curious what you think.