News a stretch too far – Editorial Notebook

News. Is the word derived as an acronym for north, east, west, south, from whence all events originate? Or is it an abbreviated reference to new information?

Whatever the case, there’s lots of news, all day, every day, so it’s a good thing there are ways to shape it into manageable mind bites.

This newspaper tries to stick to its area of reader interest and expertise. Agriculture doesn’t often capture the front page in daily newspapers or run first on the evening news, but if Producer staffers looked hard enough, we could probably find a farm angle to most mainstream media picks.

Ottawa Senators on the skids? Well, there’s at least one prairie farm boy on that team. How might this affect him and his farm?

That’s an easy ag angle, but some are more obscure.

Could the drunk driving charge against B.C. premier Gordon Campbell have an adverse effect on malt sales or vineyard popularity? What was he alleged to have

been drinking, anyway, and is there an agronomic reason for his preference?

You can see how that angle is a reach.

The point is, it’s possible. Not particularly helpful to most Western Producer readers, but possible. And even when the pickings are easy, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should jump on them.

Case in point: Robert Pickton is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of 61 Vancouver-area women. He is suspected of having disposed of their bodies on his pig farm east of Vancouver.

Continued media references to the Pickton pig farm sparked a letter from the B.C. Pork Producers.

“The pork industry is disheartened when the story is labeled as the Pickton pig farm,” said the News release

news. “Consequently, having the words ‘pig farm’ associated with the Robert Pickton murder trial has been and continues to be very negative to our industry.”

The pork producers have a point. This is a crime so heinous that, by association, it gives pigs a bad name.

At the same time the group shouldn’t expect the reference to disappear from the news. In addition to offering the alliteration so beloved by journalists, the words “Pickton pig farm” have become an instant identifier of a place and a situation. Sort of like 24 Sussex Drive. The Pickton phrase has acquired baggage that makes the adjectives less important than the whole.

The case is big news. The fact that it involves a farm is peripheral. We won’t be making the stretch.

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