The first daily newspaper I worked for was about 1,200 miles and a couple of mountain ranges away from where I grew up and went to college.
About half the population of this little city in the West went to the same church and was serious, straight laced, but a generous people. They did most of the white-collar jobs. They didn’t get dirty and they did not go out much at night.
The other half of this city’s populace could not be more different. Some went to the other churches on Sunday morning, but only after going out on Saturday night to any one of the city’s motley collections of country, rock, and honky tonk bars. These were the folks that got dirty during the day working on the railroad and in the mines and factories.
Writers at this newspaper also fell into two camps. Some did not care for feedback, period. But some of us did. When someone figured out I fell into that later camp, they told me specifically where to go. Not far from the paper was a place we’d now call a convenience store, but bigger.
It was the first place our circulation trucks would drop our newspaper every afternoon. There were always be people milling around waiting for it, and a good-sized crowd could develop if there was something going on that people cared about.
So, I’d go down there and hang out to hear what people said about what they were reading in the newspaper. I really liked the feedback on stories where we were pushing the envelope a bit. I once covered the kidnapping of the daughter of a prominent family from the straight-laced side of town where the comments I heard really helped direct where I went with the story.
That’s why I so much appreciate the instant feedback that we enjoy today. I do not have to go stand around somewhere waiting for someone talk. Feedback is everywhere at our fingertips.
In the last week, Food Safety News saw its comment lines light up after William Pape wrote, “NAIS: Simpler Technology Fuels Fire.” His contributed article is about possible new life in the National Animal Identification Scheme. Pape, Executive Vice President of Colorado-based TraceGains Inc. wrote that: “A combination of market forces aligned with a simplified tracking technology, and some rare positive news may have reinvigorated USDA’s moribund, voluntary animal traceability initiative.”
We did not have to wait long to find out that lots of folks are passionate about the NAIS.
Vermont blogger Sharon Zecchinelli wrote: “I’ll ask you, as I’ve asked for the last 5 years, what will you do when the government decides that some piece of property of yours needs to be kept tabs on because of trade treaties? Don’t laugh. I never once in my life thought that just because pork producers in Iowa want to sell meat to Japan I’d be put in the position to have to report the whereabouts of my horse to the USDA.”
At Food Safety News, it’s not just the lively discussion that’s important. It’s the ideas we get from those of you who choose to comment that helps guide and direct those issues we will be exploring in the future.
Until next time.