8 Lessons and Reminders We Learned from the Jim Haye’s Symposium

IMG_2616To inspire and illuminate a new generation to lead with integrity was the goal of the Jim Hayes Symposium on October 10, 2014.

Jim Hayes was a founding director of the Brock Center and a Cal Poly journalism professor for 23 years. In 1992 Hayes retired, but his teaching career didn’t end there. His reporting, teaching and coaching career carried on for over 60 years.

Sponsored by the Cal Poly Journalism Department, Journalism Advisory Board, The Brock Center for Agricultural Communications, Journalism Department alumni and friends and family of Jim Hayes, the day brought together students, educators, journalists, communications professionals, scholars and the public to address the topic of ethical communication.

For those who weren’t able to attend the symposium, here are eight lessons we learned and were reminded of from listening to the speakers:

Peter King speaks about

Peter King speaking at the symposium.

1. Use words carefully.
Peter King, Executive Director of Public Affairs for the University of California, shared with us at the event, “Jim Hayes spent his whole life trying to find the right word.” As journalists and communicators it is easy to get lazy. The speakers at the symposium heavily stressed that Jim Hayes was tireless, especially when it came to his word choice. The perfect wording can change the entire effect of the piece you are producing.

2.  Work hard.
Beginning with the first word on the page you have to work to get the truth, King additionally pointed out. In order to produce the best story or article hard work needs to be done first. 

3. Be curious.
Seek out new information and continuously work hard to learn to the truth. “Jim’s caffeine to find the truth was curiosity,” King shared.

4. Facts need to be right.
In this pressured time every fact we post needs to be correct. What good is it to be first if the information isn’t even correct? “It’s important to be right. It’s nice to be first, but it’s always most important to be right,” Judy Muller journalism professor at USC explained.

6. News literacy is the heart of preserving journalism.
In a rapidly changing world, we need to uphold correct and accurate communication as well as educate the audience of the future. Muller shared that news literacy is the difference between inference and evidence.

7. Communicate the weighted evidence.
The responsibility to share evidence is important for all parties. No matter what side of an issue you are on, you need to report the weighted evidence even if it doesn’t support your side. According to Muller, the question to ask yourself is, “Does the communicator provide the best evidence by all parties about the public’s risk and safety?”

8. Remember “The Look.”


“The Look” that David Kernley says changed his life.

David Kerley, a national correspondent for ABC News, explained this was the look that changed his life. According to Kerley, there are three questions associated with this look that you should always ask yourself before releasing any information: 1. Are you right? 2. Are you fair? 3. Did you give opportunity for the subject to comment? 


Brock Associates and agricultural communications students had plenty of time to network.


Ag communication students had the opportunity to speak with and learn from David Kerley.

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Earthquake Rocks Napa Valley Agriculture

Written by Harrison Reilly, Associate Editor

photo 1Growing up in Northern California, earthquakes are a way of life. In my lifetime, I hadn’t experienced a significant earthquake. My parents, however, lived through one of the most infamous earthquakes in United States history, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake which caused catastrophic damage across the Bay Area and infamously interrupted the 1989 World Series. That earthquake was a 6.9 on the richter scale and was the biggest since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

On the morning of August 24th at 3:20 a.m., I felt the biggest earthquake of my life in St. Helena, California, the heart of the Napa Valley. The quake rattled seemingly forever, like a train had just plowed through our home. And because earthquakes are relatively rare in Napa Valley, I instinctively thought the epicenter was in San Francisco, where possibly a much bigger jolt occurred. It turned out the epicenter was only twenty minutes from my home, in South Napa.

The earthquake registered a 6.0 on the richter scale, which was the biggest earthquake in the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake.The earthquake occurred on a fault that was thought to be dormant for 1.6 million years.

Official numbers for earthquake damage are yet to be officially reported, but it’s estimated that the earthquake resulted in $300 million in damage, if not more. Governor Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama declared a State of Emergency for the Napa area. Damage was widespread and impacted agriculture all throughout the Napa Valley, including many wineries. Some wineries, however, felt the damage more than others.

Trefethen Family Vineyards, a winery in North Napa, had their Eschol Winery building buckle to a 20 degree slant. The building was built in the 1880s and is listed on the National Register for Historical Places. It is still unclear if the building can be saved.

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Downtown Napa was given most of the media coverage, with newspapers front pages featuring pictures of stone and concrete falling off the faces of buildings. More than a few businesses were shut down because it was too dangerous to operate in their buildings.

As for wine loss, it varies across the board. The wineries in Napa Valley range from very small to huge production facilities. The smaller wineries have felt a bigger impact because their production of the wine is already limited. But for the bigger wineries in Napa Valley, the earthquake was only a small dent in their inventory.

One of the defining images of the earthquake were piles of wine barrels fallen off from their racks. The earthquake is sure to overhaul how wineries stack their wine barrels, store their wine bottles and make their fermentation tanks seismically fit. Wineries will now have to build their barrel rooms with large earthquakes in mind.

Even though Napa Valley accounts for only 4% of wine grapes in California, the Napa Valley wine industry makes $13 billion per year. According to the Napa Valley Vintners, a ton of Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon grapes generally cost four times as much as the statewide average for cabernet sauvignon grapes. The prestige of Napa Valley wines is unparalleled in the United States.

Napa Valley is also the gold standard for agritourism in California. 2.94 million people visited Napa Valley in 2012, spending more that $1.4 billion.

The earthquake has only added to the problems of wineries due to the harsh drought that’s taking a toll on the entirety of California farmland. While Napa Valley hasn’t felt the effects of the drought as badly as somewhere like Paso Robles, cleaning up earthquake damage while conducting photo 3harvest and managing the drought is only compounding costs for wineries.

Despite the struggles, Napa has a very optimistic attitude and the community has become stronger as a result. This past week, the organizers of the Bottlerock music festival, held at the Napa Fairgrounds in May, hosted their Napa Valley Rocks event, donating all proceeds to the earthquake relief fund. Businesses are encouraging tourists to come to Napa Valley, insisting the Napa Valley experience has not been tarnished.

As for me, my town St. Helena didn’t feel the damage nearly as much as Napa. The jolt certainly felt big, my parents initially thought the shake felt worse than the Loma Prieta earthquake. But St. Helena is thought to be on soil that isn’t as susceptible to earthquakes, making the area relatively safer than somewhere like Napa. My home gained back power the morning after the earthquake.

My second oldest sister, Mackenzie, however, lives in Downtown Napa and felt the brunt of the earthquake. There was a house on fire at the end of her street and power was out for a couple days. A week after the earthquake, I visited her home. The neighboring streets were lined with yellow tagged and red tagged houses. There is much work to be done in Napa in restoring homes and retrofitting them for future earthquakes. If nothing else, the earthquake is a warning to the rest of the Bay Area that a bigger one is on the way and there’s no such thing as too much preparation for one of the most destructive phenomenons in nature.

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AMS: Days 3 & 4 / Wrap Up

Written by Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief

Tuesday was a very busy day for us at the Ag Media Summit! We started off the day with a few more workshops, had a luncheon with a motivational speaker and finished off with an awards dinner and after party.

Awards Dinner

Jordan, Dr. Gearhart, Katie, Rylin, Giuliana and Harrison at the Awards Dinner on Tuesday night.

Overall, our experience at the 2014 Agricultural Media Summit has been an amazing one! We are coming back with a ton of ideas for ACT and the Brock Center for the next school year, and we can’t wait to share everything we learned with you! The connections made at AMS are truly one of a kind, and I look forward to bringing more students with us to Arizona!

In the midst of being so busy, we were still able to squeeze in a few tours! We toured the Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Colts) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the Indy 500)!

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Harrison, Jordan, Katie, Giuliana, Rylin and Dr. Gearhart starting their tour at the Lucas Oil Stadium.

Lucas Oil

Dr. Gearhart, Harrison, Giuliana, Rylin, Katie and Jordan on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Thanks for following along with our experience at the Ag Media Summit! Keep an eye out for some more summer blogs in coming weeks!

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AMS: Top 5 Things We Learned / Day 2

Written by Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief 

Howdy! It’s day 2 at the 2014 Agricultural Media Summit and boy did we learn a lot today! Today was consisted of workshops, an award ceremony and visiting the Info Expo.

First off, congratulations to the editors and contributors to the Ag Circle magazine, as Ag Circle was awarded Excellence in Publications in the NACT Critique Contest!

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Jordan, Rylin, Katie, Giuliana and Harrison after the NACT Awards.

With our first round of workshops down, we’ve come up with the top 5 things we’ve learned so far:

1. Harrison Reilly: There are  more ways to look at writing news stories than the typical inverted pyramid. 

2. Jordan Dunn: There’s an easy way to seamlessly work between GoogleDocs and InDesign. 

3. Rylin Lindahl: Using the flash on your camera creates unnatural light, because the sun is never directly above your camera. Instead, place the external flash and/or reflectors at a more natural/realistic angle for a better result. 

4. Giuliana Marchini: Innovation needs abrasion. Different outlooks and opinions coming together can generate great ideas.

5. Katie Roberti: Indiana is the second largest soybean producing state. 


Stay tuned for more tomorrow! In the meantime, keep up with us via twitter (@AgCircleMag)

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Ag Media Summit: Intro / Day 1

Written by Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the first post of our Agricultural Media Summit Blog Series, where we [Katie Roberti, Harrison Reilly, Giuliana Marchini, Rylin Lindahl & myself] will be recapping you with what we are experiencing at the 2014 AMS in Indianapolis, IN. We’ll cover everything from our deep dive session workshops to our explorations around the city, so try to keep up!


DAY 1  – July 27

AMS 2014

Jordan Dunn, Katie Roberti, Rylin Lindahl, Giuliana Marchini and Harrison Reilly fresh out of an ACT workshop!

Today is our first full day at AMS. Yesterday (Saturday) was our travel day, but we were able to meet up with most of the ACT members that had already arrived. So far, everything has gone smoothly – besides maybe our rainy trip to Steak & Shake [hence the hats].

Stake&Shake AMS 2014

Harrison, Giuliana, Katie, our waitress, Rylin and Jordan at Steak & Shake.

After seeing [and going to the top of] a 330ft monument, visiting the NCAA Hall of Champions and visiting a zoo, we put on our costumes and made our way to the famous Welcome Party! The 2014 theme was “All-Star Sports”, which we found fitting for Indianapolis.

AMS 2014 Welcome Party

Jordan, Rylin, Giuliana, Harrison and Katie dressed up for the “All-Star Sports” Welcome Party.

After a long day of time zone recovery and miles of walking, we are ready to start AMS off with a day of workshopping and networking!

Follow us on twitter (@agcirclemag) for live updates throughout each day of AMS, and stay tuned for some more blog posts!


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Working in DC: Where Farm Meets City

Written by Kenna Lewis, Associate Editor

There are countless things to love about the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. I could go on for days about the beauty of the office: the conference room views overlooking the national mall, the barn wood rotunda, etc. I could rave about the free coffee (if you know #teambrock, you know coffee is a lifeline) or the weekly fruit deliveries. But at the end of the day, three main things have made the first month of this summer absolutely incredible: the mission of the organization, the responsibility they’ve given me as a summer intern, and the people I get to call coworkers.


The Mission

For those who may not be as familiar with AFBF, the organization’s mission is to stand as a unified national voice of agriculture by working through our grassroots organizations. Farm Bureau represents every type of farming practice, from large-scale ranches to small organic farms, recognizing the need for diverse operations. This mission is not something that is taken lightly by AFBF employees.

I’ve had the chance to sit in on a few meetings from around the office where it has become evident how genuinely the staff cares about representing the grassroots level of the industry. Special committees have been formed and full positions created to ensure county FB offices up to the AFBF office are in constant communication, and that ranching families know what current issues could affect them and how AFBF is working to accurately represent all sectors of the industry.


The Responsibility

 The past four weeks in the Communications Department have been nowhere near a “typical internship.” I was shocked throughout my first week, even my first day, at the amount of trust and responsibility granted to me. Within my initial few hours in the office, my boss promised that I would never be given a menial “intern task,” and then proceeded to assign me a 1,000 word feature story for Feed & Grain magazine, and another for the official newspaper of Farm Bureau. Throughout the course of the month, I was asked to sit on panels representing AFBF, attend press conferences, and manage many of the social media platforms. I have been provided a delicate balance of helpful guidance and entrepreneurial encouragement. The trust my bosses and the rest of the AFBF team have put into my hands is both humbling and exciting, and I don’t take it lightly.



The People

 Arguably the best part of working for AFBF is the group of people I work alongside each day. During my first hour in the office, a woman from Human Resources gave me a tour of the building, and with each office we passed by, a fellow employee shook my hand, learned my name (and actually remembered it!) and asked me about my hometown. The warmth and “family attitude” of the staff makes the working environment somewhere I want to be everyday, and it is evident that the folks around me genuinely love their job.

 Not only are the people beyond welcoming, they are also extremely passionate about their area of expertise. One of the coolest parts about working in such a large office is that each department specializes in something different, yet all come together to form one unified voice. Some days I’ll find myself soaking up the endless knowledge and personal experiences of the “issue experts” in the public policy department, and a day later I’ll find myself dissecting leadership theory in the organization department. The staff is made up of such a broad range of backgrounds, from past and current farmers to “city folk,” yet all have found their niche in serving a common purpose. The raw enthusiasm of those who work beside me gives me great confidence in the future of the agriculture industry.


 AFBF has been such a rewarding place to work, and I know my time in DC has been a summer well spent. Although it will be over in a few short weeks, I am thrilled for what this internship still has in store!

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Red, White & Blue and Ice Cream Too

Written by Katie Roberti, Associate Editor

If celebrating America’s birthday isn’t a good enough cause to make you love the month of July, here’s one more reason why it should be one of your favorite months of the year!

Thirty years ago President Ronald Reagan made a rich and creamy proclamation, one that I fully support. He designated July as National Ice Cream Month. His really large sweet tooth may have contributed to the idea, but Reagan had a much greater purpose for this designation than to solely fulfill all of America’s sweet cravings.

In 1984 Reagan proclaimed, “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.”

Looking to improve the economy at the end of the Cold War, Reagan saw an opportunity to use American’s favorite dairy dessert to do just that. He decided this was something most Americans could both benefit from and enjoy.

Reagan further proclaimed, “The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.”

Today ice cream continues to greatly contribute to America’s dairy industry. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, in 2010 the ice cream industry in the U.S. generated total revenues of $10 billion, with about 9 percent of milk being used for ice cream production.


I scream, you scream, Brock screams for ice cream! Katie Roberti, Associate Editor, and Jordan Dunn, Editor in Chief, enjoy a large helping of ice cream to support National Ice Cream Month.

In addition to the designation of the entire month, Reagan also declared every third Sunday of July to be National Ice Cream Day in America. So, if your swimsuit body can’t resist the treat for an entire month, at least dedicate National Ice Cream Day, on Sunday, July 20 to a scoop or two.

The Fourth of July may be over, but you’ve still got plenty of time to fully enjoy the remainder of the month. Don’t let the month of July melt away without celebrating Reagan’s national month and supporting the dairy industry! If you’re summering in San Luis Obispo, grab a pint of your favorite Cal Poly Ice Cream and do as Reagan once encouraged every American to do, “observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

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