‘Fake news’ tag harms useful info

I have, for the first time in my 25 years at The Western Producer, heard from farmer-readers that the professional press, including us, is “fake.”

Lately, the term is being thrown around a lot.

I was sitting in the sprayer, not so very long ago, going back and forth, as these things do when everything is working correctly, and considering a couple of internet postings and an email related to this. These mimicked U.S. President Donald Trump’s catchphrases about the “fake” press.

And the more I thought about it, the more pre/post-headland misses I created with the sprayer.

There are some very large differences between what the U.S. leader believes, or says he believes, about the press and what some Canadian farmers believe, or say they believe.

But fake news is the media catchphrase of the day. It is very damaging language.

Imagine how it would be if our prime minister was referring to producers as chemical, corporate or factory farmers? What leaders do, their people will often follow.

When folks don’t like what we, the press, write, especially when it comes to our editorial opinions, they accuse us of bias.

Last week, about 350 newspapers in the U.S. wrote editorials pushing back against the “fake news” propogandists in leadership roles.

The press is here to report on and discover what the rest of us need to know and often would rather not, to ask the questions you would ask, if given the resources and the chance, to find out if your democracy is being undermined by the very few very privileged or extremist groups, even ones you might identify with.

There will be many days that you will be sure our editorial opinions are wrong. These might be about property crime and guns, railway policy, supply management or whether Canada should take positions on international human rights when it could interfere with trade. It even might be about the PMRA’s limiting your use of neonicotinoids. None of those opinions live in our news stories. And none are fake, designed to mislead, put one political party in power or remove it.

The Western Producer has an agenda: It is to inform farmers. I also have an agenda: to feed more people better food, the bulk of which I do through you.

I also think I need to upgrade my guidance system to include headland turns.

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