Local TV station KOMU called yesterday, planning to do a story on the food safety bills now before Congress (for background, see my post on HR 875). A very nice reporter drove out to the farm around 5:30 pm to interview and take footage for the 10pm newscast. We had a good time; she was intelligent and asked good questions, listening to the answers and asking followups. There is so much to say about how screwy these top-down, one-size-fits-all attempts to “fix” food safety that I was having a hard time condensing my thoughts into sound bites that would work for TV, but did my best.
This is why I don’t like TV as a medium, though. All reporters have to filter the large amount of information they gather, but TV makes it especially hard to present context and reasoned argument. After all, she spent over 30 minutes here, but had less than a minute to cover the entire topic. This format works for house fires and lost dogs, but not for serious public policy issues. It would be nice if (a) stations gave their reporters more time to do real stories, and (b) the audience demand supported such things.
In any case, watch the piece here and judge for yourself. I think it’s well done given the constraints, but no one sound bite can possibly convey the deeper discussion we had during her visit. I do wish they had used another quote from me, as that one out of context just makes me sound like any other business person instinctively bemoaning regulation, with none of the background arguments for why this particular regulation really is impractical. I felt particularly strongly about the point that on a farm like ours, customers can come out and inspect the production process for themselves; the FDA can’t possibly match that kind of relationship. To give credit, she did mention that during the voiceover, but with a couple more minutes she could really have delved into the issue in a way that would inform the viewer. Not her fault, though; it’s the nature of the (badly misused) medium.