Top prize awarded to WP editorial

The Western Producer’s Barb Glen, who often pens our opinion pieces on page 10, has won top honours in the North American Agricultural Journalists awards for editorial writing.

The NAAJ, which formed in 1952 to “promote the highest ideals of journalism and agricultural coverage,” comprises agricultural editors and writers in the United States and Canada.

The editorial, “Responsible irrigation essential to prevent public backlash,” was published in April 2015. It reminded readers that irrigation is estimated to have a $5 billion impact on Canada’s economy, and given the debate that was underway in California — which was in the midst of a drought — it is important to practise good water use techniques in farming across the Prairies.

Barb is a former editor of the Producer, who now runs our Lethbridge bureau.

I particularly enjoyed the lead of the editorial, which imparts the flavour of the piece. “Pity the California almond growers who, collectively, have become the whipping boys for the backlash against drought-induced water restrictions in that formerly lush state.”

Category judge Jane Schmucker, of the Toledo Blade, said of Barb’s submission: “An easy first-place choice for me. I like how the ‘Responsible Irrigation’ piece, for instance, gives very specific examples — improved nozzles — along with a very wide overview that includes numbers from the United Nations Food and Agriculture.” However, Schmucker wondered about the use of the words “riposte” and “nascent” in Barb’s submissions. Might they be not easily understood by readers?

It could be argued that in opinion pieces, more thoughtful analysis occasionally calls for words with deeper meaning than their elementary alternatives. What say you, readers? Do you object to the use of such words in editorials?

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Last week, we ran a photo of early seeding in High River, Alta., on the front page. That means it’s time for our annual spring photo contest. Details were published last week in managing editor Mike Raine’s column in this space, but in case you missed it, you can send us photos of seeding — taken from inside or outside machines, or as Mike pointed out, from drones — to, or you can tweet #plant16 or enter on The Western Producer’s Facebook site.


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