One of my earlier Western Producer memories is of an innocuous front page photo sometime in the first year of my tenure here.
It showed a canoe and paddlers on a river and shouldn’t have caused much controversy.
However, someone wrote to the paper complaining about the photo because the paddlers weren’t wearing life jackets. The letter writer thought The Western Producer was endorsing unsafe water practices by showing such a photo.
And so it has gone for 34 years.
Many of the photos involved children and farm safety — kids in a corral with their parents and cattle posing for an on-farm feature, children playing in the farmyard where heavy equipment was present and even one of a young boy sitting in the wheel well of a large piece of equipment parked inside at a farm show.
It hasn’t just been about kids. Somebody once expressed displeasure over a photo of a farmer feeding livestock out of a pail that had at one time contained pesticides. We even got an angry letter over a pretty photo of a farm field with daisies in the foreground. Daisies are weeds, we were told, and we shouldn’t be promoting the presence of weeds in fields.
The common denominator in all of these complaints is the assumption that the Producer agrees with everything that goes on in the photos it publishes — and that is not the case.
This newspaper has always been in the business of not only providing farmers with information to help them do their jobs better but also to show them what their occupation looks like at a particular moment in time.
Not everything that takes place on the farm may be ideal, but we consider it our duty to show what’s happening — warts and all.
We received some of these complaints this fall. A story of a couple who operate a welding business was accompanied by a photo of the man welding and the woman in the background. She wasn’t wearing a face shield.
A page of photos of a family having supper together in the field during harvest included a photo of one of the young daughters in the combine cab with her father and another of the young son and his mom running to the combine after their meal.
Of course, I don’t mean to discourage readers from engaging with the paper. Just keep in mind why we do the things we do.