This week, the Pew Research Center issued its annual State of the News Media report, chronicling a shrinking, some might say anemic, news industry. Employment at newspapers is down 30 percent since 2000, dropping below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. The quality of reporting at many news outlets has fallen as budgets are squeezed and staff cut. Read more
For years, agriculture and the food system have been critically under-reported subjects in the media. Take for example earlier this year, when Gannett (the parent company of USA Today) laid off Phillip Brasher, one of the last reporters covering agriculture issues in Washington, D.C. Thanks to a public outcry (and in part to reporting here on Civil Eats and elsewhere) he was rehired. However, this made clear that the desire for food reporting is not being sufficiently met by the current media structure.
The Food & Environment Reporting Network, a journalism non-profit for investigative reporting in the area of food, agriculture, and environmental health, which launches operations today, is seeking to reverse this trend. Read more
Well-known DC-based agriculture reporter Philip Brasher was just let go by the Des Moines Register. His reporting also often appeared in USA Today; both papers are owned by the parent company Gannett. The loss is a reflection of the climate in journalism today, in which most mainstream media is forced to make cutbacks to editorial and reporting staff due to losses in advertising revenue. But here is why you should really be concerned about the future of food and agriculture policy in this country.
I’ve been asked to respond to a query sent out by GOOD magazine’s new food hub, in their week-long series Food for Thinkers. They ask, “What does–or could, or even should–it mean to write about food today?”
I write about food because I think it is a vital issue that has for decades been critically overlooked by the media–and thus the American public–leaving a vast backlog of interesting stories. And because I think food has the potential to unite us. Read more