This week, I put the finishing touches on our annual Environmental Respect Awards winner profiles. These positive stories focusing on the ways a select group of ag retailers are keeping their stewardship efforts top-of-mind. They will begin appearing on our Website in July, with printed versions of these tales (and pictures) following later in the month.
Besides the environmental stewardship angle, each one of these winning ag retailers shared the same level of frustration with me regarding spreading their good deeds to the general public and media. “It’s nice to be able to tell a good story about agriculture for once,” said most.
Naturally, I was curious why these retailers hadn’t apparently told positive stories more often in the past. Again, their answers were uniform – the general public isn’t interested in positive ag stories. And many among our readership group agree. In last weeks’ ecolumn, we asked if the industry needed to tell more positive stories about itself. While 61% thought this was a good idea, another 32% believed such “good news” would get little to no attention from the mass media.
One retailer spelled this out for me when talking about the many invites to safety meetings he had extended to a local reporter. “She never accepted these invitations to see how our company prepares for trouble,” he said. “But after the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas happened, this same reporter was quick to jump on the negative story.”
Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change in the near future. However, all members of the agricultural community have a duty to keep trying to spread good news whenever they can and the general media may take notice, eventually. After all, if we don’t tell positive stories about our efforts, who will?