The public reaction to the alt-weekly's Feb. 2 issue, which contained a recipe for methamphetamine, dominates this week's issue. In the cover story, Jim Mullin, the paper's new editor, apologizes for provoking community outrage and laments lost readers, distribution points and advertising. Mullin, who was editor of the Miami New Times for 18 years before joining the San Luis Obispo paper, says the meth story "strained to the breaking point a trust that had steadily developed over two decades." He says the paper chose not to use a "scolding" tone in order to avoid alienating young readers, but the "use of sarcasm, designed to hold reader interest, alienated some who believed the subject was too serious to be treated flippantly." This week's issue also includes dozens of angry letters, including those sent by the city's mayor and chief of police.
According to NBC-affiliate KSBY, some area residents were upset by the paper's Feb. 2 cover package on methamphetamine, which included a recipe for manufacturing the drug. After the paper hit the streets, one former meth user suggested that citizens should take matters into their own hands: "Everybody should just get [copies of the paper] and burn them. It's just ridiculous." The next day, KSBY reported that "angry readers, recovering addicts, police, and drug counselors" were removing papers from the streets and pressuring store managers to do the same. Andrew Carter of Cellular One, which spends $52,000 annually advertising on the back cover of the New Times, said, "As the lead advertiser in the publication, they've not only, in my mind, embarrassed themselves, but they've embarrassed us." SLO New Times Managing Editor King Harris noted that "instructions for making meth are readily available on the Internet" and said the paper's intention was to inform people, "especially worried parents, about what to look for and what to consider suspicious."