35 Years: Putting Rural in the National Media Spotlight

I spent a recent Sunday reading 28 years worth of articles in The New York Times that quote, reference or were penned by Center for Rural Affairs’ staff. It took all day. Since 1980 the Center for Rural Affairs has made the pages of the nation’s leading newspaper 33 times.

In one of the first articles, the Times deemed the Center one of the “most provocative new critics of big farming.” The article highlights three organizations that the writer calls “unorthodox” and who are “raising questions that tend to be neglected by the agricultural establishment.” The 1980 article reads:

The Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Neb., (pop. 900), according to an Agriculture official, is “the best public interest group in the country on agriculture and rural issues.” That judgment owes much to the personality and energy of the Center’s director, Marty Strange, whose casual, blue jeaned manner belies his sharply honed analytical approach to agricultural issues.

The article goes on to reference early reports by the Center including Wheels of Fortune and Who Will Sit Up With the Corporate Sow as well as Center work exposing lending and tax incentives that fueled early consolidation in agriculture.

Since the Center for Rural Affairs first rose to attention in The New York Times, hardly a single year has passed without our work appearing in the paper, including two full-length opeds, one by founder Marty Strange and one by current director Chuck Hassebrook.

But, if we measure the media success of the Center by articles in the Times alone, we sell ourselves short. In just the last few years our work has been covered in a number of additional national and international outlets including the Economist, Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, and the Los Angeles Times. From the Midwest’s Des Moines Register and Minneapolis Star Tribune, to the legislatively-influential Congress Daily, to California’s San Francisco Chronicle, many prominent regional papers cover our work as well.

Our work is also covered frequently by news distributors such as Reuters, the Clear Channel Network, and the Associated Press, the primary national news source for the rural media. These distributors, coupled with our own direct distribution to over 1,000 small daily and weekly papers across the Midwest, means our work appears regularly in rural papers as well.

For 35 years the Center for Rural Affairs has worked to build the credibility needed to be seen by local, regional and national media as a knowledgeable source and trusted voice of rural people. Our track-record speaks for itself.

Visit www.cfra.org/08/media to see a handful of media highlights from the last year. Visit www.cfra.org/08/nyt to view the 30 year archive of the Center for Rural Affairs in The New York Times.

Contact: Brian Depew, briand@cfra.org, 402.687.2103 x 1015 to comment.

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