A lack of agricultural representation by major media outlets is becoming more of a concern, particularly in recent years. The concept of appropriate coverage of the agricultural industry was the topic of discussion at a recent California Press Foundation conference in San Francisco. Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen was one of the panel members who noted some of the concerns about how ag is represented to a broader audience.
“Lack of coverage is a big deal within the industry. It’s more than just people not knowing how and where their food is coming from, it goes beyond that,” Jacobsen noted. “Bridging that gap, I think is very important for the future success of the industry just because it really does bring a relevancy to what we do here.”
As media outlets continue to consolidate it means there are fewer journalists on staff in general, let alone having a dedicated reporter to specifically cover agriculture. Many of the industry’s most significant issues such as water and labor can often get fairly topical coverage, which may not provide a complete story of how those issues affect agriculture. Jacobsen noted that a lack of coverage can sometimes lead to a lack of understanding from a legislative standpoint as well.
“Not being in mainstream media does hurt the industry and the community when it comes to trying to be relevant when it comes to the political world and all the other discussions,” said Jacobsen. “Our day to day lives in agriculture are more driven by what’s going on up in Sacramento than what Mother Nature can throw at us.”
One of the items discussed during the meeting included playing to the strengths of agriculture when it comes to engaging public interest. Jacobsen highlighted a critical component to advancing agricultural representation in media is through the visual story of the industry. “Beyond just the articles that are written, the video and pictures that go along with it are truly intriguing to so many folks and people are interested in where their food comes from and how we do what we do so amazingly well in California agriculture,” Jacobsen explained.