Editorial: Crises will push you out of your comfort zone quickly

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We’re all being pushed into new and sometimes challenging experiences during COVID-19, me included.

The movement and personal contact restrictions made necessary by the pandemic have changed how journalists work, including how we’re able to tell stories at Farmtario.

Major events in world history have pushed people beyond their comfort zones and that’s helped drive innovation and change; some for the worse, but much of it for the better.

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We’re in the middle of one of those events right now, with a global pandemic that’s foisting unprecedented change into our economic and social systems, along with long-established supply chains.

The events that we in the farm media rely on for efficient news gathering and networking have been cancelled or moved online. That means we’ve had to be more creative about finding coverage and ways to connect with people. You’ll notice we don’t have as many good photos of people in our stories because we’ve stayed away from personal interviews during the pandemic. I hope to be able to visit more people on farms soon, while still taking precautions.

Compared to many other people and many other industries our challenges haven’t been insurmountable. In fact, they’ve pushed us to find new tools, which have been highly useful and we’ll continue to use them in the future.

The restrictions have forced reporters to hone new skills.

Farmtario’s parent company is Glacier FarmMedia, which also owns Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. That’s meant our Farmtario reporters have been heavily involved in creating content for the new Canada’s Digital Farm Show. We’ve become experts in Zoom, recording interviews and sessions with farmers and people with expert and interesting opinions about agriculture.

That content can be repositioned in many ways, flowed out in the multiple platforms on which Farmtario publishes, including in audio, video and text on our website, daily email, podcast and in print in our newspaper.

Don’t be surprised if in the future when we look for you to help us with an interview it’s on Zoom, or recorded in some way.

I’ve always been somewhat comfortable on video. I had some excellent TV reporting professors in university who forced me to become comfortable on camera pretty quickly. I also had an internship at CKNX TV… back in one of the final years there was a studio in Wingham.

Being in front of a camera for close to 30 sessions for Canada’s Digital Farm Show gave me little time to be nervous about it.

The challenge of moving to video required me to push some of my interviewees to be comfortable talking on camera. Thank you to those who have agreed to go along with my experiments. It hasn’t been as bad as you’ve expected, has it?

There will be changes both in society and markets due to the extended impacts of COVID-19.

What will the changes be for demand on the food and fibre and fuel that farmers provide? There will be opportunity. I see those who market directly from farms busier than ever and innovating quickly to fill those new markets as best they can, as one example. There will be others we haven’t thought of yet and everyone, including those in agriculture and food are pushed out of their comfort zones.

Food-based generosity continues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of it continues to involve farmers.

Veal farmers and turkey farmers both recently delivered treats or meals to workers at plants that process their animals.

Veal farmers delivered cookies to workers at plants across the province. Turkey farmers visited six different processing facilities with meals for the workers at those locations.

Pork producers were the first to deliver meals to processing plant workers as part of the Pork Industry Gratitude Project.

Farmers are also finding new partners to work with to get their surplus production to people who need it.

The Muslim Youth Association of Vaughn organization delivered bread to Horodynsky Farms, which they said was to thank farmers for their work, and Horodynsky Farms, near Innisfil, delivered onions to the Humanity First organization, which delivers food to those in need.

About the author

Editor

John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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