With the calendar now turned to 2018, I just completed my first year as editor of High Plains Journal. It has been a wild year in many ways, particularly as I look at the list of the most-read stories on the High Plains Journal website.
Not surprisingly, coverage of the Starbuck Wildfire garnered the most attention. Six of our top 10 stories were from the wildfires, which ravaged areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas in March. The Journal staff covered these stories with personal accounts, in addition to being on the scene and from the recovery. Two of these stories earned 1st place writing awards from our professional association, the American Agricultural Editors Association. Of course, we don’t write to earn awards; but we believe our coverage helped bring awareness to the carnage caused by the fires, and hopefully helped with donations, and with healing.
This story won’t go away. Years of recovery, repairs and re-stocking will be needed by those who were affected.
President Donald J. Trump is a polarizing figure.
The president’s contribution to the agriculture industry—and to farmers and ranchers—remains to be seen, but from his promises to revamp existing trade agreements (or throw out ones that had been years in the making) to the recently passed Tax Bill, its safe to say the president has made a significant impact his first year in office.
In my 20-plus years in the agricultural journalism industry, I’ve never seen more reader correspondence about a single person or issue than I have with President Trump in 2017. Our readers either love him or hate him, and it is not unusual to receive letters, emails or phone calls from readers with differing opinion on the exact same issue we’ve had in the Journal.
Love him or hate him, President Trump is good for our business.
Part of our mission here at High Plains Journal is to focus on topics of importance to rural America. Rural healthcare, schools and economic development all are vital to the health and well-being of our communities. Mid-year, we featured the many success stories of the community of Quinter, Kansas, to attract new businesses, infrastructure and secure economic development funding. This package of stories was just one example of many we featured throughout the year, hopefully serving as an example to other Journal communities of the opportunities available with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.
What’s in store for 2018?
Agriculture—particularly crop farming—has been in a down cycle for roughly four years. Past history suggests that this cycle will turn sooner rather than later, although the experts predict 2018 will be another tough year, economically, for grain producers.
Of course, anything can happen. That’s the thing about a new year: the possibilities are endless. Maybe we’ll have the right amount of rain at just the right time; perhaps commodity prices will rebound. President Trump could very well negotiate trade pacts beneficial to agriculture and rural America.
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Whatever happens in 2018, High Plains Journal will be there.
One final thought
Although the Journal is a weekly publication, we update www.hpj.com daily, plus post information throughout each day to our Facebook and Twitter accounts (High Plains Journal and @HighPlnsJrnl, respectively). Moreover, we have a YouTube page that has a number of news and feature videos. You should check those out.
Bill Spiegel can be reached at [email protected] or 785-587-7796.