Isn’t it amazing how things come to us when we aren’t even looking for them… I’ve been really upset and outraged lately over all the bad media that the meat industry has been receiving. I swear there isn’t a day that goes by this week that I haven’t seen an article that claims meat will give you cancer, heart disease, diabetes, leads to obesity, shortens your life span… you get my drift. I’m sure much of this bad press is coming off of the controversy “pink slime” brought up and now all facets of media are jumping on the meat industry bashing wagon. Now to those of us who love meat, eat meat, support meat, we know these articles are to say the least, ridiculous, but the truth is that people actually buy into this kind of thinking. They believe what ABC, Huffington Post, The Daily, etc. report to them. They trust that the people giving them this information have done the research and are looking out for their best interests. That they are “exposing them” into things never seen before.
Mike Haley wrote a very interesting article for Feedstuffs Foodlink where he talks about trust and how important it is for us an industry to remain transparent and proactive in order to secure and nurture trust with our consumers. He uses the issue of “pink slime” as an example. Although I agree with this type of thinking, which is why I blog. I like to remain transparent with my customers as well as my readers as to the practices of our shop and many like ours. I feel it’s important for the meat industry to begin telling its story. The Beef and Pork industries are making steps towards breaking the silence that has so long been held between them and consumers. However, the meat industry, has yet to take the leap and follow suite. But I also understand their hesitation, how many times as an industry can you continually work towards putting a positive message out there. Nurturing that truth with consumers, only to have it broken again when the news media decides to show burgers cooking on a grill when an E.Coli outbreak occurs due to spinach, not even meat. Then you get on the Internet and find articles about meat causing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, shortened lifespan… When is enough!? As an industry you can only do so much damage control. And how are we supposed to reach out consumers when the news media is doing such an effective job of propagating against us?
Which leads me to question, WHY!? Why do people BELIEVE what the news media tells us?? People are questioning my industry and its practices, they are changing how they buy based on a segment they saw on the news…. Does anyone ever question the news media? And as I was having these thoughts while flying on a plane to North Dakota, I begin my new book, Normal Gets You Nowhere By Kelly Cutrone. And there it is….
“Every media outlet is a brand with its own point of view… If you take a minute to actually look at these brands, from the major networks to the national newspapers, you’ll see that many are owned by huge, multibillion-dollar corporations. Whether bringing you gossip or hard-hitting news, every brand is interested in first and foremost gaining more readers, viewers, or advertisers…. They are for-profit businesses. That means they have one responsibility to carry out for their owners and their boards: to engage you, the consumer or the viewer, and keep you coming back for more”.
Now that hit me pretty hard, bet you didn’t think of your favorite evening news program in that light…? But they’re providing you with information aren’t they?? They are INFORMING you, aren’t they?? Are they really?? One of the most effective techniques the news media has found to keep us hooking and coming back for more…. Fear.
“One of their favorite tactics is fear. Hundreds of producers employed by news organizations sit around everyday scouring the Internet, reading every paper from coast to coast and every news feed from around the world. What are they looking for? Stories that are going to keep you hooked, scared, trusting them, and coming back for more updates…. Over time, our perception and intention of ourselves and our lives can’t help but become aligned with this fear-based messaging. It can make us paralyzed instead of proactive”.
I agree with this whole heartedly. And the issue of pink slime is a great example.. Consumers aren’t stupid, they SAW that pink stuff on t.v. But rather than using that news segment as a starting point and forming their own opinion, they align themselves with ABC and sharing the segment on Facebook, Twitter, etc. until it goes viral.
“Even the best news stories should be just a starting point, not the final word. We can use them to pique our interest, but then we need to do our own research and create our own beliefs. There are too many capitalistic interests at work in the media- the media brands themselves plus the publicists and lobbyists whose job it is to influence them- to take any of it at face value. Everyone thinks news organizations exist just to inform us, but really they are distribution networks for branders, advertisers, and publicists…”
So what does all this mean for us…? Well, I am not trying to BASH the news media. I am just forcing myself and my readers to view them in a different light. To really question what it is that they report, not take it at face value. Afterall, they are causing us to question many other industries, where is their check and balance..?
My advice: Use your local resources, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Social media is a great tool to find experts and share information. And before you go jumping on the band wagon the media has created, take a step back, do some research, consult an expert, and form your own opinions about issues. Being an informed consumer is a powerful thing and sharing that knowledge with others helps us get the real information out there. It is my only hope that if we continue to put our stories out there and continue our positive message that eventually our message will overshadow the fear and hysteria the media can cause in our consumers. After all, we are the ones who have worked in the industry for decades and generations, not reporters and news anchors!
Happy Friday everyone! Hope your weekend is fantastic!