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3 ways farmers and journalists are alike

What do journalists and farmers have in common? More than you would think. I grew up on a farm and ranch, but my early love of the Little House books sparked an interest in writing. Journalism seemed like a logical and interesting way to be a writer.

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What do journalists and farmers have in common?

More than you would think.

I grew up on a farm and ranch, but my early love of the Little House books sparked an interest in writing. Journalism seemed like a logical and interesting way to be a writer.

Demographically speaking, few people with my background stick around journalism. But I've never felt out of place in a newsroom, and I think that is, at least in part, because the two worlds have more in common than meets the eye.

Here are three ways agriculture and journalism are similar:

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There are deep divisions in both industries, but we still support each other.

Journalism has broadcast versus print, "new media" versus "old media" and conservative media versus liberal media. But one newspaper will let another use a printing press when disaster strikes, and one newsroom will send another newsroom a stack of pizzas when they're dealing with a stressful story.

Agriculture has organic versus conventional, new technologies versus old methods, and corporate farms versus family farms. But we all will help the guy down the road harvest his crop when he's in the hospital, and we'll ship hay and fencing supplies across the country to someone we don't know because we can imagine the devastation of a wildfire or a flood.

We're derided by the public and those close to us.

"The media" is irresponsible, biased and not to be trusted. We write in favor of the highest bidder. We think we're better or smarter than "real" people, and we're out of touch. None of those are true, but even those close to us sometimes say those things with the caveat of, "Oh, but not you."

At the same time, farmers and ranchers are destroying the environment. We abuse animals and pump them full of drugs. We're somehow both naive simpletons and crafty business people collecting money from the government and insurance companies. In reality, nobody has more reason to protect the environment or livestock than farmers and ranchers.

Are there bad journalists and bad agriculturalists? Sure - just like there are bad teachers, bad police officers and bad medical professionals. But the reality is most journalists are fiercely independent and committed to ethical reporting and finding the truth. And people in agriculture, by and large, strive to do what's right.

Both industries face challenges, but we continue to believe our work is necessary.

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Journalism needs to find an economic model that works in the modern world. We need to regain the public trust and continue covering topics important to democracy. People need quality, in-depth information about the world in which they live. As the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics guides, "The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public." As long as we follow that, there always will be a place for us.

Going forward, agriculture will deal with regulation, climate change, urban sprawl, technology, a public farther removed from our practices and the ever-present fights with invasive weeds and diseases. Conversations about the size of farms and misperceptions of the industry will persist. But as long as people need to eat, we will have agriculture. It changes over time, and we must change with it. But we will continue to meet the needs of the world. Even those who never wore a blue FFA jacket "believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words but of deeds" as that organization's creed demands.

Why does this matter? There are deep divisions within our country and world, and some of those involve lines between rural - the land of farms and ranches and small towns - and urban - the land of big cities and the home of most media.

But in reality, people in both areas are just people. And if we'd look for similarities more than differences, we might find that we have more in common than we thought.

Related Topics: FARMING
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