Mass communication has spread lie wildfire through society. People figure out the latest gossip stories, the weather for the day, and the latest news stories in minutes. The integration of mass communication has allowed easier access to communication, but has this misguided the society?
In my agricultural communications class we have recently been discussing the hot topic of agriculture’s integration into the diversified fields of media. In McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory Model, it shows how far media has come throughout the years. Although magazines and newspapers are perceived as the earliest forms of mass communication, they are also granted with the reputation of being the power that began to misguide American society. Throughout history, it appears that as mass communication allowed an increase of social integration, things like pornography and violence became dominating issues across the country (pg. 55). However, as technological improvements prevailed, social media followed closely behind to become one of the most influential and convenient forms of communication people are exposed to each day. Good or bad, the truth is that media contributes to both the false and true perceptions citizens hold about everything, including agriculture.
About a month ago, I was reading a blog written by an agricultural advocate, Ryan Goodman, about agriculturalists being proactive to issues rather than reactive. It had never occurred to me that in the social spectrum of the industry there was more work being done after the issue was created, than work being done to actually generate an educated population about what farmers are doing. Therefore, demolishing many links to misconceptions that could be inferred. This got me thinking: in what ways are agriculturalists working alongside social media to create a reputation for itself to people who have probably never seen a farm, much less understand what it is that farmers do for them?
After some research, I discovered just how much agriculture-related companies are doing to reassure the community that agricultural practices are not only safe and ecological, but that they are necessary to survival. For instance, Monsanto released an advertisement video seemingly directed towards; however, after reaching nearly 35,000 views it has also captured the attention of the general public:
Monsanto makes it a clear priority to diminish misconceptions not only within the farm community, but also with consumers who also deserve to know what is going into their foods. It is videos and companies like this that are striving to show the public what agriculture does for them that are changing not only the face of ag, but the purpose of social media as a whole each and every day.
They are just a bunch of farmers right? What would they do with a Twitter? Agriculture is one of the last industries most would associate with computers, much less social media. Contrary to popular belief, agriculture is very active on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
Another presentation I recently read titled “A Little Birdie Told Me About Agriculture: Best Practices and Future Uses of Twitter in Agriculture”, brings forth a vital point to individuals who believe it is a waste of time to advocate agriculture on social media:
“Whether it’s putting a face on the agricultural producer, marketing and branding, covering agricultural news, dispelling myths about agriculture, conversing with ag and non-ag publics, monitoring public opinions, or participating in risk and crisis communications, Twitter has value for agriculture.”
The presentation goes on to mention multiple pre-existing advocates who tweet about agriculture including:
The initiation of the AGvocacy movement has generated a nation-wide response from consumers, because they are starting to understand the industry and what it does for them. Agriculturalists practicing proactive techniques to protect the sacred reputation of their livelihood was a necessary step, will continue to be fundamental in the social media movement. I believe Dairy Carrie said it best on her blog on the Cattle Network’s website when she said:
“Our customers choose to use social media. Our opponents use social media. Social media is only bad for agriculture if we don’t take part in it.”