You might not read it on the printed pages of Agweek as often as we see it written to us in social media, but it's a trend for readers or viewers to call us and other news outlets "fake news" when they disagree with reporting or with the opinions of columnists. We mostly ignore the comments and carry on with our daily jobs, knowing thousands are looking for a trusted source of ag news.
This issue of "fake news" has nothing to do with any of the journalism outlets you likely frequent. In recent years, outlets have sprouted up online that write outright lies, with no connection to reality. Those sources sought to sow discontent, to make people doubt everything and rely on their own worst instincts. The efforts of those behind actual "fake news" have put lives in danger and, perhaps just as dangerously, have made people doubt everyone and everything.
Some things in agriculture are simply facts, regardless of whether you like them. It's not "fake news" when grain prices stumble. It's not "fake news" when droughts or blizzards strike. It's not "fake news" when major commodity groups criticize a government policy. When facts are important to agriculture, we report them.
At Agweek, we stand behind the work we do, as well as the work of our news partners. We can, to borrow from math class, "show our work."
Our sources are real. Our work is real. Our news is real. Reporters quote real people - responsible people who have important perspectives or information to share. We have a team of people to ensure we're meeting our responsibilities. We work to deliver timely, up-to-date agriculture news and to share columns with individual writers' opinions and submitted letters to the editor. Those opinions are clearly labeled as such so readers and viewers don't confuse them with news.
Are you always going to like what you read in our pages or see on our show? Absolutely not. If you did, we wouldn't be doing our jobs.
We, as humans, all have biases. It's human nature to fight what doesn't fit our worldview. But that which doesn't fit with what we think we know isn't "fake." When something is presented with verifiable sources and we dismiss it as "fake" just because we don't like the conclusions, we're shutting ourselves off from learning anything new or expanding our points of view.
Go beyond reading headlines. Read news articles critically, from top to bottom. Don't judge what you're reading; try to learn from it. Whenever you read news, from any source, that doesn't strike you as correct, consider your own biases. Are you willing to consider that your preconceived notions might be incorrect? If you're a Democrat, you might not like to read an analysis that says a Democrat's plan won't work. If you're a Republican farmer who considers yourself a supporter of the president of the United States, you might not like to hear that some of his policies appear to be harmful to agriculture.
We hear the concerns you have about issues facing your livelihood and industry. Even if you're not actively working in agriculture, you care about food production and where food comes from. You might have a connection to agriculture and care about its future.
Your feedback, thoughts and diverse opinions are welcome. Send your thoughts on ag issues to firstname.lastname@example.org as letters to the editor by Tuesday at 12 p.m. Central each week. Have a story idea or news tip? Contact any of our Agweek staff or email email@example.com.
Yes, there is "fake news" out there. But we don't peddle in it. We and other journalists sometimes make mistakes or allow our own perspectives to cloud our reporting. When that happens, by all means, call us out. But anyone who labels anything they don't want to hear or don't want to believe as "fake news" is contributing to a societal problem. We are never going to write propaganda. We won't write something just to make people happy. We subscribe to no particular political party or way of thinking. We are going to report the news as it happens, to the best of our abilities. And there's nothing fake about that.
We hope most fair-minded readers will agree that Agweek is not "fake news." We don't always bring good news about agriculture, but it's relevant, accurate and up-to-date information from across the region and nation. We are proud to be part of agriculture. It's our passion and livelihood to deliver ag news to you.
Thank you for reading, watching and sharing your feedback.