Hyper-local farm journalism?

So I was thinking on my ride home today, and it really stemmed from my #onthefarm conversation with Celeste Laurent.

What if a group of farmers from one area/county got together (say 20) and decided to “hire” a student journalist to cover their farms for the summer through social media? It looks like several producers try to blog, but most are on an irregular basis (no offense). If a student was solely dedicated to 20 farmers to report on what they do (stories, audio, video, fast facts, etc.), a Web site or Facebook page could be updated daily. Many farmers could still tweet and Facebook, but if there was a person dedicated to writing feature stories and capturing video to post to a central Web site, maybe that’s a good way to spread farmer stories? Almost like it’s super-hyperlocal journalism.

If anyone is interested in this idea, I’d be willing to explore it more with you. I think it’d be a cool program for an ag journalism program or even for a County Farm Bureau to support.

How much would you pay a student? If 20 farmers pitched in $200, that’s $4000 for a summer internship. Maybe not great, but it would give a student an opportunity to cut his teeth in journalism and blogging.

Sorry, just sort of stream of consciousness there. I think it could work though. Promotes ag and gives a student an internship for a summer.


8 Responses to Hyper-local farm journalism?

  1. This is an EXCELLENT idea Nick. I want to do this in Ohio.

    • webernr says:

      Thanks, Andy. I would bet you could find a Van Wert Co. OSU student who may be interested. . . be happy to help set up a program. I would love to see someone try it!

      Basically, farmers would hire their our writer/blogger/videographer/PR person to tell stories about their farms.

  2. bob says:

    Well, if this person is “promoting” something, it’s not really journalism, right? See the difference?

    • webernr says:

      Fair point, bob. Not exactly “journalism” in the sense of being completely unbiased, but we’re not the only ones having that discussion now about what is journalism.

      I could see the blogger/writer/reporter (whatever anyone wants to call it) could provide news analysis on issues. Look at Issue 2 in Ohio. If you read andykleinschmidt’s blog (agvanwert.wordpress.com), there is a good discussion on his Issue 2 blog post, with some farmers for and some against. If there was a writer on the ground, you’d get a real unique perspective from the 20 farmers in the area. Instead of the Columbus Dispatch writing a 15-inch story.

    • bob says:

      Journalism doesn’t have to be “completely unbiased” to be journalism. It just has to be independent, fair and intellectually honest. Some kid “promoting” farmers may be interesting and even useful, but it wouldn’t be journalism.

  3. Ken Ohlemeyer says:

    Great idea – I bet the ag journalism program at Mizzou would be interested in something like this. Email me if there’s anything I can do to help.

  4. WhittneyLS says:

    I know an OSU student that would do this for fun- just because it’s a great idea and a great way to spend summer hours!
    Most students are looking for ways to develop their social and multimedia skills, and this would be a great way to pursue those interests while still getting topic guidance.
    Linking up with the “College Aggies” program might also spur some involvement as they work with Ag students across the country. Lots of students, all in one place!
    Great idea!

  5. As an aspiring ag journalist I know I would LOVE an opportunity like this!

    Let’s face it, ag journalists have to wear many different hats. One day they’re doing public relations work and the next they’re copy writers or photographers or videgraphers or bloggers or social media managers.

    Giving a student the chance to experience all those different aspects of journalism would be such a great opportunity.

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