Expert opinion


This VACCINE® really works!

On a daily basis, journalists receive endless amounts of letters, e-mails, phone calls or web suggestions. Even pig journalists are no exception.

Often, requests are relatively harmless and most of the time easy to answer. Fields of interest vary sometimes, from some detailed knowledge on sow stall alternatives (question from Canada) to simply 'tell me everything you know about pig production' (Inner Mongolia).

Company news
It gets more complicated when messages reach my desk related to company news. The majority of companies would like to share their plant openings or latest products with Pig Progress and I feel the medium usually allocates space to subjects like these. Both online and in the magazine's Business News section and show reviews, readers and users are kept updated on the industry's latest innovations.

To top that all, when innovations are completely out-of-the-box – and present a concept that has never existed before – or at least not in the memory and vision of the editorial team, we even might turn attention to it in the shape of an article.

So far for the theory.

In practice, in press releases, all new plants are 'state-of-the-art'; companies always are 'world leading'; and every VACCINETM or ANIMAL FEED® is of course always 'highly efficacious' and 'innovative'.

I understand companies like to promote their products – and I hope this makes you understand the role of a pig journalist a bit better. I prefer to tone down these articles, just to make texts more readable and more credible. I write about modern plants, prefer to place companies among the world's larger ones, write products in lower cast without trade mark signs – and I assume innovative products are efficacious, otherwise they wouldn't have been launched in the first place. Some data to support efficacy are welcomed, but in my perception this should be limited, not to overwhelm or even bore our readers.

And I aim to abide by these guidelines, as well as my job allows me to.

It is not a point of view that always goes down well at marketing departments of some industry companies, but it gives me a job. At least, I believed it did.

I understand, however, more and more, that I may overestimate my role of journalist. Companies can get in touch with producers directly through the Web – so I sometimes wonder why still bother editing?

Is there, in 21st century journalism, still a role to play for selecting, toning down and filtering information – and putting these data in a more realistic context? Or should editors just put their feet up, and allow all pig-related information to come to you, readers, in uncontrolled quantities and qualities – and leave it up to you what and how much you'd like to read?

It may not come as a surprise to you that I strongly believe in the first role, as the question touches on the very right of existence of editors – being critical. That role, I feel, is essential to maintain PIG PROGRESS as the world-leading platform of excellence for the global pig industry...


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    And, is it the same for all companies? Or it depends on they sponsor or not your journal or web?

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    David Burch

    That is a very heart felt comment, Vincent. I write a lot for companies with products which I generally feel are good and have always had a good response and acceptance from yourself and Pig Progress. We write to keep the readers updated on the latest developments or innovations in pig production. We have been asked to write articles for people, who when you ask them for any scientific trial data, usually do not follow it up. I think Pig Progress has developed a very strong and unique position amongst the pig journals supplying a lot of good and useful information to its readers. I hope you feel that you have the editorial freedom to carry on doing so.

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    Peter Zondervan

    Speaking as an advertisor, I can see why you raise the subject. The advertiser always wants as much positive publicity as possible, and an article in a Pig Progress is very supportive. However, without your critical role an article is nothing more than an advertisement, and readers want an objective view of something new.
    So, keep up doing the good work at your 'world-leading platform of excellence for the global pig industry...'!

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    In full agreement with you, Mr Editor

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    john gadd

    I too fully agree with you, Vincent but the thing that disappoints/ frustrates/ annoys me is the failure of the manufacturers of what I am fully prepared to accept are worthwhile new products or inncvations, is the invariable lack of information on their cost and even more important what might be their payback. Thats why i invented the term REO(Return on Extra Outlay) based on credible trial evidence, which goes a long way to helping compare products - not necessarily in the same product category, but inter alia with other spending options. After all, thera are dozens of ways we can spend our limited capital resources on performance enhancement and/or saving costs. REO narrows the field tremendously. But we cannot really make an econometric judgement until they give us at least some idea of cost and possible payback. Some do - most don't.
    Come on advertisers, have a go!

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