By Owen Roberts
President, International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)
Agricultural media has always been a reliable source of information for farmers. Although agriculture is a huge industry, the media community that serves it is too small for unreliable sources to flourish for long.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, I expect one of the agricultural media’s role – that is, as a knowledge provider and mobilizer — will become increasingly important.
Food insecurity has intensified. Going forward, some agricultural journalists will be called on to help producers hit new levels of efficiency, productivity and sustainability.
Still others will be asked to help a worried, confused and increasingly concerned public understand food production domestically and globally.
In both cases, agricultural journalists will be putting wheels on knowledge they glean from their sources and presenting it in a skilful way.
Formats will change, particularly the move towards much more online activity. Agricultural journalists will need to change with them, just as farmers have.
I don’t think that will really challenge journalists, though.
When electronic communications first became popular, some threw in the towel and said it wasn’t for them. But that’s not the case anymore. Any journalist who worked through the first part of this century has done so with adaptability and enthusiasm. Virtual platforms have become easier to access.
It doesn’t matter, though, what shape formats take, because content will still be king. And that means there’s no question agricultural journalists will be needed…and that their particular ability to mobilize agricultural knowledge will be more vital than ever.
The world will change hugely in the next 365 days as we grapple with the pandemic, wait for a vaccine to be developed and start the slow road to recovery.
But two things won’t change: these are farmers’ need to feed the world, and journalists’ role in helping them do so.
Through the global network for agricultural journalists, we can make a difference in how effective this all works out.