Prior to working for Pig Progress I worked for a daily newspaper. I still read the paper on a daily basis to see what topics my ex-colleagues choose to highlight.
Two actions by an animal welfare group yielded surprising amounts of extremely positive coverage this summer. On one occasion, pigs were offered an outdoor vegetarian barbecue. Two weeks later, there was the annual election of the ‘pool of mud of the year’. Grunting pigs peacefully rolling around in the mud and curious pigs sniffing at delicacies on a bbq stick – photographers and journalists had the time of their lives.
Carried away by apparently content pigs, a reporter started to write about ‘honest’ outside air pigs capable of having thoughts, while female welfarists were portrayed as being ‘consciously living’. On top of that, a welfare spokesperson gave his opinion – not very flattering for the current-day pig industry of course. Data on contemporary pig production supplied by the organisation were published as well. The item generated a two-page splash, as in holiday time anything ludicrous stands a good chance of hitting the headlines.
What strikes me, however, is that the editorial team hadn’t thought of putting the welfarists into context. Who are they? What are their motives? Is the Dutch pig industry really consisting of careless crooks, only focusing on profit? I got that feeling, the way the article was written. I think newspapers and media need to be more careful presenting animal welfarists as ‘objective’ sources. It just goes to show that these organisations are getting very good in clever marketing.