Didn’t catch the Oscars snafu where best picture was handed to the wrong people and the mistake was not cleared up until they were into their acceptance speeches.
But I feel their pain.
It was not as prestigious as the Oscars, to say the least, but it reminds me of the time I, well the first time, I was nominated for “Agriculture Communicator of the Year” in the little town where I once worked on the local newspaper.
I was the farm reporter or farm editor — take your pick. That was just a sideline. I was also a general reporter-photographer.
But I took my farm reporting seriously. I had been a member of the Future Farmers of America in high school and had some animal projects (swine, beef) and had taken some college-level agricultural courses. In addition I had done some honest to goodness farm work, including irrigation and tractor driving.
One day my boss informed me that I was up for Agriculture Communicator of the Year. It was an award presented by the local Farm Bureau.
I hate to admit it, but I don’t even know what the history of it was, that is to say how many winners of the award there might have been. But for some reason I just assumed I was to get it. For one thing, I could not think of anyone else who even did any farm reporting in my area.
It’s been so long ago now that I don’t recall if I wrote an acceptance speech but I am sure I had one in my head. I’m pretty good at extemporaneous speeches. I took a speech class in high school and I recall I did pretty well on my assignments, especially on the off-the-cuff one. And did I not recite the FFA Creed before an audience at the annual Farm-City Night as a freshman in high school? I did. You know how you do something like that? You memorize your speech backwards, from the last paragraph back up to the top (I don’t mean that you talk backwards). Sounds weird, but I guess in that way you can remember what comes next. It worked for me.
But back to the Agriculture Communicator of the Year Award. My boss at the time, a man who was even younger than I, and perhaps almost as naïve, picked me up at my house in his old pickup truck with the broken windshield he never did get repaired, as long as I knew him anyway. He was wearing a tie as I recall, but no sport coat, just a light windbreaker-type jacket. I don’t think he owned a sport coat. I think I was in coat and tie. I’m sure I was rehearsing my lines in my head (“I feel so humble. I just want to thank all of my readers. It is an honor to be here among you and to be recognized for something I have done, blah, blah, blah…”)
We had the rubber chicken dinner at a local motel dining room and then there was the usual Farm Bureau business meeting. When are they going to present me my award? I kept wondering.
And finally it was time. The Farm Bureau president announced that he would now present the prestigious Agriculture Communicator of the Year Award and told of how valuable it was to have people spreading the word of agriculture to the general non-farming public as well as valuable information needed by local farmers.
And then I could tell he was about to make the announcement, read the name. I prepared to get up out of my seat and walk to the lectern and give my speech.
And the winner is….
Well, it was not me. I know who it was but will not say because for one thing the poor guy passed away of an illness not long afterwards. No it was not from the rubber chicken.
I could not believe it and hoped no one saw me preparing to get up out of my seat.
In retrospect I imagine that guy deserved his award as much as me — not more — but as much. You see, he was a local TV reporter. I don’t think he actually did farm reporting as such, but he did give weather reports I think. And really, what kind of news do farmers need the most? Weather reports.
And this is not to criticize the recipient, but my memory of him is that when he covered a story he would just casually pan the crowd with his super 8 film camera (that was the state of the art at the time), a device no bigger than a medium-sized squirt gun, shooting from the hip, not even looking at what he was filming. Also TV guys used to always make that shot of a sign that might have a name of an event on it that they were covering. Then he would record a few remarks — like: “hey what’s this all about?” guy answers and he was done. No long interviews, going back to the office and poring over notes and then trying to condense it all and bang out a story on the typewriter (the state of my art at the time), not to mention taking representative still photos and then developing them in a darkroom and trying to print up the right shots and so on. And as far as understanding anything — hey I did some local broadcast news later and all we would do is record the players and let them do the talking. No probing questions. No substance.
(Of course local farm reporting of the nature I speak did not usually include controversy.)
But this guy who got the award was a personable character and liked by all. May he rest in peace.
So, like I mentioned, I got my chance later at broadcast news, well as a radio reporter. I put together my own farm report and did put some effort and imagination into it and was again nominated for the Agriculture Communicator of the Year Award.
Don’t remember if I attended the awards ceremony. I do know I did not get it. I don’t know who did. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if the local newspaper guy got it? I don’t think that was the case, though.
And while I do not know for sure why I missed out again, one reason might be that our radio station’s signal barely extended beyond the city limits.
I do think in the end I got a better award or reward. I don’t have to do that stuff anymore.
Hope I don’t appear bitter. I am not. A little embarrassed, maybe.
For further fun reading, I did a previous post related to all this several years ago: