John Eligon, a writer for the NYT, writes about a controversial hog farm in Mount Judea, Arkansas ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/us/2500-pigs-join-debate-over-farms-vs-scenery.html?_r=1 ) that has rocked its community ever since. Eligon includes many different perspectives and opinions from the community regarding its new “neighbors.” The environmental and economical repercussions of such a farm are the major issues being discussed in this article, but what the author doesn’t include are issues pertaining to the moral or societal implications at large that such a farm could produce.
In your opinion, does the journalist do a good job at exposing the most crucial elements of this story? With regard to the content of the material, what should we as journalists be focusing on when it comes to the agricultural food industry? Is it the environment, the moral implications of these farms, or the community aspects?
What is the most “newsy” story that can be told from corporate farming? Is the viewpoint of the farmer, the corporate head of operations, the neighbor, or the hog? Which perspective is the most crucial for a given story in your opinion? Which perspectives does this journalist fail to mention, if any, and who should he have included in his investigation? Moreover, how does he represent some of the key players in this story? Does he represent them all in equal light, or are these some characters in his story that play out their roles differently than others?
As is mentioned by one person in the story, what sets this hog operation apart from other operations the area has seen before is the sheer size of it. According to the article, more than “2,500 sows” will be present in the area, thus being larger than all the surrounding areas hog farms combined. The size of this operation is a huge problem. How does the author prove that this observation is significant?
What do you think went into producing a story such as this? What various activities did the journalist need to do in order to research this topic sufficiently? Do you think the agricultural food industry is more difficult to write about and research for than other topics such as climate change, or do you think it is easier? Describe why you think reporting on food is harder or easier than other topics. Moreover, why is food such a controversial topic for people? As can be seen in this article, there are many opinions of people within the community, along with outside sources. Do you think it would be difficult for the author to infiltrate such an operation seeing as though he did not include quotes from the farm owners and operators? Why did he not enter the hog farm itself? Do you think he tried, or is more likely that he tried to gain entrance and was refused? Is this just? Should agricultural food companies be able to hide what they are doing if it affects the surrounding areas and community members, or should they be forced to show what their operations are undertaking? Is it our job as journalists to uncover this truth at whatever cost, or are there certain rules that we must obey as journalists when writing about a topic such as food production?