Sensationalism versus the facts

If you are wondering why The Western Producer is running a photo and a story about an animal activist’s experience with a bloody livestock trailer (page 64), I wouldn’t be surprised. Across the nation, the general media has picked up the story and run with it.

But for the WP, this is not a “me-too” story that sensationalizes what is likely a relatively rare occurrence. We are covering it because our industry needs to be aware of how damaging these instances are.

Consumers don’t see the hundreds of successfully delivered loads of livestock, only those that don’t go according to plan.

We don’t know what happened in this instance. Livestock are living beings and as such they are prone to injuries and health issues that can appear suddenly and look terrible.

In covering this industry, we write about its successes every day. You need to know about those, but you also need information about the times when you are made vulnerable and this is one of those times.

As a news and information organization, we try not to take positions on either side of an argument, but provide balance to issues, other than in our editorials and opinion columns, such as this piece.

And because this is an opinion piece I can say how poorly most of the media handle agriculture and food issues. I also know they need the sensational to sell soap.

And for that, I blame all of us for undervaluing the news and information sector of our society. We have to rely on evermore shrinking advertising dollars to provide the news our society relies on to remain a functional democracy.

Advertising chases eyeballs. The Internet, and other media forms, are following the money with sensational content that provides easy, low-cost hits of short, poorly researched information pabulum.

We try to avoid that at the WP.

* * * * *

And speaking of editorials, we have two new columns to tell you about. Starting this week, on page 67, you will find a new column by Ed White. While you are familiar with Ed’s Hedge Row markets insight column, this deals with the culture of agriculture and what Ed observes of world around us.

Another column coming soon, will deal with land. Buying, selling, owning, renting, rights, marketing transferring the stuff and, yes, what consumers and our fellow Canadian taxpayers think of it. Look for that starting next month, written by me.

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