Wednesday, December 05, 2007
ATC tries extra hard for some oh-so-lighthearted humor on the Iowa campaign trail. Michele Norris chats with Mo Rocca about holding and kissing piglets. The funny thing is that Norris and Rocca botch an opportunity to do a little real journalism during their visit to the small pig farm of Virgine and Reggie Martin in Bridgewater, Iowa.
Probably most interesting story is the one right under Norris' and Rocca's noses. Virgine Martin is an advocate for the small farm and an activist against factory farming. The Martins raise about 600 pigs on their 800 acre farm according to this Radio Iowa link - a small operation which means, according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, they are a dying breed (in 1978 the average Iowa farm had 250 pigs, whereas by 2002 the average was a whopping 1,518).
There's a lot that NPR could have talked about with the Martins: the health and environmental effects of factory farming, the exploitation of all workers and undocumented workers by the meat industry. Also, NPR might have looked into the cruelties to the animals unleashed by the factory farms.
Obviously, the little picture book image of cute, squealing piglets and aw-shucks Iowans is probably a lot more reassuring to the up and coming crowd that NPR is aiming for. But seriously, it's not just a liberal thing, even former Bush speech writer Matthew Scully is revolted by factory farm animal abuse (and NPR did talk to him waaaaay back in 2002).