By Gil Gullickson, 2019-2020 AAEA President
The new coronavirus (COVID-19) that some compared a few weeks ago to the common cold is rapidly morphing into a time bomb that’s straining global health care systems and shuttering the world’s economy.
Frustration and fear are being funneled into a ubiquitous unknown that’s simultaneously nowhere and everywhere. I can’t add anything already hasn’t been said. What I can tell you is how it’s impacted the Ag Communicators Network and how matters now stand.
- The AAEA 100 reception and regional meeting slated for April 23-24 in Chicago has been postponed into this fall. Just what the date will be depends on COVID-19 development.
- June’s International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress in Denmark has been cancelled. It will not be rescheduled. Plans are full steam ahead for the September 2021 Congress in Australia.
- It’s still a go for the Agricultural Media Summit in Kansas City from July 25-29. While the Loews Hotel in KC is postponing their grand opening (originally scheduled for April 2), we don’t see this affecting our event at this point. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and update you with any developments. This will be a special event commemorating our 100th anniversary, but health concerns of all attendees outweigh all other matters.
On the plus side, we remain committed to other programming. Austin Keating with Farm Progress and representing the Young Professional SIG will conduct a webinar on March 24 at 10 a.m. CST on Making Google Maps Simple. Meanwhile, there has never been a time where farmers have needed more information about how to run their businesses and help them raise their families than now.
During times like these, I always think of the late Tom Budd, who was one of my first bosses when he served as editorial director of Farm Progress Companies.
His interests were, well, varied. This seemingly reserved editor had the most sinister laugh you could imagine—like something out of a bad 1930s horror movie.
Like me, Tom was a big fan of the rah-rah world of professional wrestling. (What do you mean it’s fake?)
His choice of the late publishing tycoon Malcom Forbes as his hero also surprised me. The fact that Forbes was one of the country’s richest men didn’t matter. What Tom liked about Forbes was that he always kept the title of editor, since he knew that editors formed a successful publication. Without them, Forbes stated a magazine was nothing. (I’ve a hunch Mr. Forbes would have expanded his philosophy to the websites and YouTube channels of today, too.)
I’ve kept a memo that Tom wrote shortly before he retired. These are tough times. Still, his last paragraph still is as relevant today as when he wrote it, and can give solace to all in our industry.
We don’t always know where the road will lead, but our travels take us in the pursuit of truth and the promise of fulfilling a useful mission. Agricultural journalism was a noble profession when I started, and it is a noble profession as I retire.