Editors' Notebook

We Have a Winner

Greg D Horstmeier
By  Greg D Horstmeier , DTN Editor-in-Chief
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Farm country, we have an Ag secretary nominee. No one is happier about that than DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton, who can finally loosen the grip on his smartphone just a little and watch a basketball game or attend one of his children's events without constantly checking the little glowing screen.

You'll see Chris' piece on Sonny Perdue in our Top Stories areas. This was posted late Wednesday evening as soon as we were confident a reliable source had informed media of who was Donald Trump's final choice for the position. Using social media, our staff got the word out quickly about Perdue, as well as provided the link to Chris' story.

This morning, DTN Staff Reporter Todd Neeley followed up with how organizations and leaders were responding to Perdue being nominated as the new head of the USDA. The ag industry, politicians and even farm lenders have been watching and waiting to see who would emerge at the final choice.

Both stories by Chris and Todd are well-researched, in-depth pieces on the nominee, and the back story on how that came to be speaks volumes about how we do what we do at DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

Chris' coverage, compared to other outlets, particularly those aiming at more general audiences, is chock-full of the background on Perdue that's most important to farmers. And as I noted in a recent blog posting, that is what our customers pay us for -- news with analysis on what an issue means to farmers.

As the long line of potential Ag secretary candidates rolled in, Chris, Todd and others on our reporting team were gathering background on those folks so that a solid introduction story could be written and posted correctly. That takes a lot of extra effort, much of it wasted, when background on an unchosen candidate gets shoved in a box or falls to the delete key. But it's how we roll around here, as the saying goes.

Reading other media outlets' stories on Perdue with an editor's insight, it was pretty clear much of what was reported relied on the first couple of items in a Google search. We also use search engines, of course. They've greatly enhanced a reporter's ability to learn pertinent things quickly, and to double check things we think we know.

But Google is no replacement for shoe leather, for on the ground, in the weeds, talking to real people, and working the phones reporting. Chris did a lot of that as he tried to stay abreast of the most likely candidates for this new post.

Congrats to nominee Perdue. Congrats to Chris and Todd and all the DTN team for giving us a well-rounded introduction to him, and to the editing team for burning late-evening oil to get stories up as soon as we felt sure the announcement was eminent.

Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at greg.horstmeier@dtn.com

Follow Greg D. Horstmeier on Twitter @greghorstmeier



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