Monday, March 15, 2010

Celebrating an Ag Week anniversary

Four years ago today, on March 15, 2006, we started this little Blogriculture experiment. If you look back at the blog post for that day, you can tell I wasn't really sure what might become of it. The headline on the post speaks volumes: "A trial transplanting of Blogriculture".

I guess I can now, four years later, say that the trial part is over. Blogriculture has endured for nearly half a decade. If success were to be measured in number of posts, 2007 was our best year with 256 posts. Our least prolific year was 2008, with 113 posts. So far in 2010, this is only our third post. If that pace continues, this could become our least productive year.

Anniversaries are a nice opportunity for reflection. There are many good things that we have enjoyed from that first tentative step into the blogosphere for a farm publication. Most importantly it put us in touch with a lot of great people. Through Blogriculture we got to know Marianne Friers and her Northview Dairy blog. That contact spread to our expansion onto Facebook.

I was having a conversation with Tim Hearden, one of our reporters and Blogriculture contributors, about what might be the next phase of Capital Press blogging. Tim, who had his own blog through a previous employer, would like to get more active in blogging again. However, that may be in a venue other than the Blogriculture blog. I hope he does share more of his unique perspective in a blogging forum.

It seems we, in ag media, are a few years behind our journalistic peers in mainstream media in getting actively involved in online efforts. I believe this is because of the differing demographics between readers of ag media and mainstream media. Ag media's readers are older than mainstream media readers because farmers and ranchers, in general, are older than the general population. People working in agriculture have been slower to adopt use of computers and Internet in their daily working and personal lives, too. But that adoption has begun and is taking hold rapidly.

Media, including ag media, will need to go where their readers are seeking information. Increasingly, the places people go to get answers to their questions about what's new are digital media. That's unsettling for people in print-based media because we have to learn a lot of new things that take us out of our comfort zone. We are comfortable talking about things like circulation and column inches. But talking about pixels, bandwidth and unique visitors is sort of like trying to learn a new language in adulthood. No one wants to toss away what they have spent years developing expertise in to go back to the beginning of the learning curve. And it's also very different going from working with a once-a-week deadline to functioning in a world where there's a deadline every minute of every day. It's scary stuff.

But there are generations of young people who learned to use a computer mouse and a keyboard before they learned to write. For them, this stuff is not new. It's what's normal. It's what has always been. Those are the ranks from which the farming, ranching and agribusiness jobs of today, and tomorrow, are increasingly being filled.

So, the trial transplanting of Blogriculture is over. It's here, and hopefully here to stay. Certainly the Capital Press' efforts to reach readers interested in agriculture in the digital realm will not go away, regardless of whether Blogriculture lasts another 4 hours, 4 days, 4 years or 4 decades. As long as there is a Capital Press there will need to be digital components to reaching people.

And now, we have a lot more allies, and competitors, in using digital tools to reach people. Here's to hoping Blogriculture has many more anniversaries to celebrate. And most importantly, here to National Ag Week and celebrating all of those who produce the food and fiber we all need every day in America and around the world. Never has the message of American agriculture been more important to share with people who now live and work far from the family farm.

Happy National Ag Week.

Gary L. West
Associate editor
Capital Press


Sara said...

It is wise for the entrepreneur and commercial sector to get involved in the agriculture area, in an innovative and low-environment –impact way. I leave you here a Costa Rican’s company site, which is dedicated in that way to the agriculture area: Please leave comments!

Cheryl said...

Celebrate your successful collaboration with technology! But I'm waiting with baited breath for your next post...

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