Young firebrand joins Producer as columnist

I first heard about Kelsey Johnson from Barry Wilson. When Barry has high praise for someone, you should listen. So I did.

Kelsey is the new bright light on Parliament Hill. She is a rare Ottawa journalist with fire in the belly for agriculture, and I really, really wanted her in the pages of The Western Producer.

When Barry’s retirement party took me out to Ottawa, there she was. I met her face to face at the party, and then again the next day at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture meeting.

I was impressed. Here was a young journalist with the writing skills, the analytic smarts, the curiosity and touch of cynicism we jaded editors look for, and rejoice in.

But she has a couple of extra things going on.

For one, considering her relatively young career, Kelsey has an instinct for how to cover news. She knows when to use social media, and many western farmers follow her every word when she is tweeting live from an ag committee meeting. As well, she knows when to hold back on a scoop and when to speed something onto a website. That sure-footedness is just remarkable.

Kelsey also appears to be fearless. Sometimes you have to really persuade young journalists to get out there, to pick up the phone, to dig out the answers. It seems to come naturally to Kelsey.

So, I called her editor. James Baxter, editor and publisher of iPolitics.ca, is an incredibly generous and intelligent human being. When I told him we wanted Kelsey, too, he agreed. There was no mucking around, just “sure.”

It took us a while to hammer out the details, but you can see the results on the opposite page. Kelsey is now writing a column for us. You will also see some of her stories and her blog on our website, once we iron out the technicalities.

Kelsey graduated from Carleton University’s School of Journalism not long ago, with highest honours. James hired her before she had the scroll in hand.

Kelsey hails from Alberta, and as her bio says, she “credits her western roots for sparking her interest in all things related to the Canadian agriculture industry.”

We are pretty glad that spark happened. Welcome to page 10, Kelsey. I hope you will be happy there.

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