The Planted Row: The media is not the enemy

Stan Wise
Farm Forum Editor

On Sunday President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that “much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

I have to say, as a member of the news media, I sure don’t feel like an enemy of the people. I have kids who attend public schools. I have neighbors whom I love. I want to see every one of us have a life we can enjoy and are proud of. I want our nation to prosper. I believe having an informed citizenry will make us a better country.

I don’t know any journalist who feels differently.

If it were just the president saying this stuff or arguing from illogical positions, that might be not be so disheartening. But it’s not just the president. Everywhere I look, I see the term “fake news” being used to attack journalists and argue against inconvenient facts.

Every time I mention climate change in this column, someone calls or writes to complain, despite the 97 percent of publishing climate scientists who say the climate is changing and that humans are causing the change.

Every time I see dicamba discussed online, there are farmers who say the new formulations like XtendiMax and Engenia are completely safe if applied according to the label because they themselves have sprayed the products, and no nearby plants were damaged. They seem to ignore the possibility that different temperatures and atmospheric conditions in other circumstances might result in off-target damage.

When journalists report the facts about controversial subjects like dicamba or climate change, we’re often made out to be the enemy by people who don’t want to change the way they do business to help solve the problem. Instead of tackling the issue, they’d rather discredit the people shining a light on the problem so that nothing gets done about it.

In many ways, I still feel like a kid, and some part of me keeps waiting for the adults to show up and sort out this whole mess.

Then I remember I’m 40 years old, and I’m one of the grown-ups now. And though that thought is frightening, I have no choice but to accept it.

So here I am. I’m a journalist. I’m not the enemy. My coworkers and I strive to fill this paper with information in the hope that it will help you to make good decisions that will benefit everyone.

If you encounter a piece of news that makes you upset, before you attack the media, ask yourself one question. Does it make you upset because it’s wrong, or does it make you upset because, if you acknowledge it, this piece of information will force you to change something about how you think, speak, or operate?

I didn’t take this job because I thought it would be easy. I took it because I wanted to put as much information in your hands as possible.

There’s a flipside to that coin. No one guarantees that learning something new will be easy, but our civilization asks us to do the hard thing. It asks us to take in as much new information as possible and make better decisions.

Do you accept that challenge? Because if you do, it means you need to spend some of your time sorting out facts from opinions. It means you need to get your information from reputable sources. It means you need to listen to the journalists telling you things you might not want to hear. And then you have to use that information to make a better world for your kids and my kids.

Because we’re all in this thing together.

Stan Wise