We recently agreed to work with the Columbia Business Times on a business profile article, and spent two hours showing a writer and photographer around the farm while carrying on a detailed and thorough discussion of our methods, philosophy, business plan, and so on. The piece just appeared online; see what you think.
In short: we’re not impressed. It contains numerous errors and misrepresentations which we were not given the chance to review or correct (we moved here from Virginia, not Vermont; Organic certification is NOT a seal of product quality; that bed in the photo contains scattered overwintered onions, not our robust garlic plantings). One would think a business publication could be counted on to get the business name right. The farm is Chert Hollow Farm, LLC, not just Chert Hollow Farm (or Chert Hollow Farms, as the CBT main page shows). The article really carries no more detail or insight than can already be found on our website.
In addition, while they technically asked us to confirm quotes, they didn’t use any of the edits I asked for in those quotes. Over the course of a wide-ranging and busy 2-hour interview, a few things are going to come out oddly. I understand keeping exact quotes in a news article, but really, a business profile is not news, it’s an attempt to show a business in a positive light. Is it really so bad to let the subject gently massage their quotes to be more accurate to their context and meaning? The “Mayas and DuPont” quote is classic here; I have no idea where my mind came up with those specific names off the cuff, but the point is just as well made with “ancient peoples and chemical companies” and sounds less absurd. Furthermore, the photo captions and associated quotes were never fact checked with us, and the quote attributed to Joanna contains inaccuracies.
I know it’s advertising, but what’s the point when it doesn’t say what you want to say? I agreed to work with the CBT in the hopes of depicting the business side of this kind of farming, including marketing plans, regulations, subsidy policies, etc. No context is given to the statements about us, leaving them hanging and unexplained. I specifically told them I wasn’t interested in just another “people living off the land” story, but that’s what we got anyway.
Maybe it reads better to others. I know we hold very high standards and may be too harsh as critics, and for all I know the original piece was far longer and better before being butchered by an editor. But I don’t think the two hours were worth the result. Frankly, there’s far more information, detail, and context on our website. I could have written a 700-word business profile myself, done a better job, and gotten paid for it.
Time to tighten our media policy once again.