The U.S. pork industry mantra of "if you don't tell your story, someone else will tell it for you, and you may not like how it's told" was amplified Sunday night as a not-so-flattering picture was painted during a "60 Minutes" segment.
You have probably heard or read how the pork industry has gone into defense mode since Sunday's airing, and justifiably so. National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom was the industry's spokesperson used for this segment that addressed antibiotic use in pigs and the part that plays in antibiotic-resistance showing up in humans, as well as overall pork safety.
Our industry has many great spokesmen and spokeswomen, and Wagstrom is one of the best, but CBS left Wagstrom's best on the editing room floor. Reports say that she was interviewed for 80 minutes, with a mere 2 minutes tops getting screen time. The only defense that I have for CBS is that is not all that uncommon. I have interviewed many people in my decades-long career in this biz, and most of those interviews run close to and even longer than an hour, and I am tasked with picking and choosing which bites will hit print. Now, print media does have the luxury of being able to use more of these lengthy interviews than TV, radio or even podcasts do, but we do still have limitations.
All media have to pick and choose what snippets reach the public eye, and it sounds like Wagstrom's best snippets won't be available for public consumption.
It's small consolation that CBS did reach out to one of our industry's best to get the pork story, it just would have been nice to get more of that story told.
This gets me back to my initial point of us, the U.S. pork industry, telling our own story, and this may be the perfect time. True, we as an industry are not happy with the way we were represented, and I have seen a lot of social media chatter about the "60 Minutes" piece. In the aftermath, the NPPC posted a blog, which we shared, expressing the key points that were left on the editing room floor. This aftermath also provides us in the industry the perfect opportunity to tell our story, the right way.
The CBS segment probably raised a lot of questions with the general public and our consumers, so this is a great time to continue the dialog or start up a conversation to get our story told.
If you want your story told, you better tell it yourself. We’ve witnessed what happens when someone else attempts to tell it for us.