Every activist knows that journalists who are willing to cover serious animal stories are all too rare, but this week we will be talking to someone who has carved out a career doing exactly that. Freelance journalist and animal advocate Jessica Scott-Reid shares her experience in the world of animal-related journalism.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Jessica Scott-Reid is a freelance journalist and animal advocate. She has been writing about animal rights and welfare, climate change, vegan culture, and plant-based foods for nearly a decade. Her work is regularly featured in mainstream media across Canada and beyond, such as The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, as well as in advocacy publications like Sentient Media and Planet Friendly News. She was the co-host of the Paw and Order Podcast and the mother to one daughter, two dogs, and a rescued fish and snail.
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Mariann Sullivan: Welcome to Our Hen House, Jessica.
Jessica Scott Reid: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited.
Mariann Sullivan: I'm super excited, I've been seeing you on Twitter for as long as I can remember, and I'm always reading your articles, and I'm so excited that you're finally on Our Hen House. And you have carved out for your... I, I don't understand how journalism works, and there's very few people who are kind of doing what you do. I'm just perplexed as to how you make it work. And you've kind of carved out for yourself this amazing career in which you get to inform people about what's going on with animals and essentially advocate for animals, though I guess it depends on your venue how much you can advocate and how much you report.
But you're not working for a media outlet. Before we get into details and specific stories and substance, can we just talk a little bit about what you do? Just describe for me your career.
Jessica Scott Reid: It is my job. It's my career. It's my personal passion, which is what makes it so great is that I get to advocate for animals full time as my job. It's really a dream and you're right. I did carve it out for myself. Such a thing didn't really exist. There's definitely more people doing similar to what I do now.
So I'm a freelance journalist. I write for major media across Canada, sometimes in the US. I write lots in the opinion sections of mainstream newspapers whenever sort of animals need a voice in media. I also write for advocacy publications like Sentient Media and Planet Friendly News. So basically wherever anybody will let me and whenever there's an issue that needs discussing, I will try and get in there and I've been doing it for almost a decade now.
Mariann Sullivan: So, particularly when you're talking about mainstream outlets, how do you maintain a pro animal point of view without being seen as just, you know, somebody who has an axe to grind? I mean, I guess if you're writing opinion pieces, people writing opinion pieces do have an axe to grind, and that's fine, but if you're writing a news story, how do you maintain that balance?
Jessica Scott Reid: Yeah, so that's why in mainstream news outlets I typically write in the opinion section. Not always, I do sometimes write in, say, lifestyle sections or food sections, culture sections, where I'll say, interview a prominent vegan person, or we'll talk about sort of the vegan food scene in a particular place.
So kind of focusing more on the food and the people, that will get the vegan message into more mainstream reported pieces. Whereas, in the opinion section, I could definitely take a more animal rights perspective and you're supposed to, right? That's the point of the opinion section, but I like to say that I find a good sweet spot when I do it.
So for example, here in Canada, the Globe and Mail is one of our mainstream national newspapers. And I know I have to write a certain way for that audience where I can't be quote the crazy vegan. Some other, some other papers can be a little bit more liberal.
Mariann Sullivan: We can be ourselves.
Jessica Scott Reid: Yes, and then, of course, there's places like Sentient Media, that really allow you to center the animal and the animal's experience in those stories more so.
So, it's all about adapting to the particular publication and your audience and making sure that you're getting that message across in a way that's going to be the most well and widely received.
Mariann Sullivan: So, how do you choose what you're gonna write about? Is it totally on your own and then you try to sell them to news outlets? Or are you sometimes asked to cover particular stories? How do you make those selections?
Jessica Scott Reid: It's both. So, you know, as the news cycle goes on every day, something can pop up new. Sometimes there's longer term projects that publications will contact me about. There's a magazine I write for here in Canada called Corporate Nights, which is sort of like a green business magazine. So I'll report on things like food innovations, like the, you know, sesame milk coming onto the market, for example.
So those they'll come to me sometimes, but often I'm pitching. So I'm writing to editors that I have relationships with already, say at the Toronto Star, and say, "You know, look at this thing that's come up in the news about animals, can I weigh in?" And most of the time they say yes, definitely not always.
And so I'll just, I'll go with whatever needs to be talked about that week and that day, that moment, sometimes longer term projects, sometimes the next day.
Mariann Sullivan: I'm impressed that they often say yes, I'm shocked, in fact, um, but so do you go to them with something already written, or do you just have an idea, like how much has to get done kind of on spec before you know that you're going to get an actual assignment?
Jessica Scott Reid: Yeah, at this point, because I've been doing it for almost 10 years, I think I've been able to kind of hone my skills to the point where I know what they're more likely to take. So I don't waste quite as much time pitching as I did in the beginning. Now I have a better idea of what editors will be receptive to.
Usually it's something that has to have already happened in the news, if it's an opinion piece and I just pitch. So I just pitch a quick idea. In the beginning, I definitely. sent in full pieces and I say for new writers that that's often a good idea, but at this point, it's usually just a quick pitch and a yes or no.
I don't really have the time to write full pieces that may not have a home in the end.
Mariann Sullivan: Of course. Yeah, and that's all a matter of building relationships. And I've always heard that so much of news is a matter of building relationships. So that certainly sounds true about what you do. So what topics are they the most interested in? And I'm talking about the mainstream publications.
We can also talk about what you do for outlets like Sentient Media and those, but those seem like very different outlets and so separate conversations. In mainstream publications like the Globe and Mail or other big papers, what topics are they do you find that they're most interested in that they're going to bite?
Has that shifted?
Jessica Scott Reid: Yeah, it has definitely shifted I have to kind of accommodate the way that the news cycle and culture ebbs and flows regarding animals. So there's you know certain times throughout the last five years, for example, where I'm writing more about vegan food innovations you know about how Vegan chicken became more mainstream.
And then issues around say animal captivity, that's always an easier one to pitch because that's not necessarily a vegan topic, right? So you can get more of a broad audience to care about, say, the captivity of whales and dolphins, but that also can lead to conversations to talk about captivity of farmed animals.
So I try to get that in as often as I can, and sometimes use these vehicles of even talking about companion animals, issues related to the overbreeding of dogs in Canada, for example. So any opportunity to talk about non farmed animals, can hopefully lead to conversations about farmed animals.
But yeah, so anything about conservations, aquariums, zoos, and also about legislation. So here in Canada, we have a big issue with ag gag laws, and that is something I've been able to talk about a lot in media over the years, unfortunately, because the laws have been popping up in different provinces. And people that might not even care about animals, they care about freedom of speech, freedom of expression.
And so when you talk about these really sort of, limiting laws that limit people's freedoms, that could really get a lot of editors and audiences on board.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I I do find that ag gag laws in particular. I you know, in some ways I don't know what else the industry would have done because they have to hide what they're doing. If anything was guaranteed to piss off the press, it was the Ag Gag Laws. You know, and I want to hear more about the Ag Gag Laws, and in particular, it kind of brings up the topic that I think most folks in the US feel that Canada is, in general, like as a general matter, much more progressive than the US. But leaving aside whether that's true in many other issues, it really isn't true when it comes to animal ag, is it?
Jessica Scott Reid: It's not, and I've heard this before from colleagues and friends in the US that they're sort of surprised to learn. I think we were maybe a little behind. I know in the US, in some of the states, ag gag was popping up several years before it started here, so it really just happened in the last five years that provinces in Canada were enacting ag gag legislation, and I believe, and I've said this in the press before, that it came about because we had more action, we had more activists walking onto farms, we had more undercover investigations with groups like, say, Mercy for Animals that used to be more active in Canada, more undercover investigations, also Animal Justice, so those things were starting to hit the public through social media, because of smartphones. And like you said, the industry had to do something because all of a sudden on your nightly newscasts, you're getting these awful images from the farm that you buy your eggs from.
So as a result, ag gag legislation started to pop up. And it pisses people off when you start limiting this freedom of expression. So in fact, Animal Justice, which is a Canadian animal law organization that I work closely with, I have joined them in a lawsuit against the province of Ontario, as a constitutional challenge to their ag gag legislation.
So it's Animal Justice, along with myself and a photographer, Louise Jorgensen, stating that this impedes our ability to do our job. And it impedes our freedom of expression. And so that's pending right now, to see what happens. And then if that goes through, if we're successful there, we can take it to the other provinces.
And in fact, there's a federal law being considered right now too.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, that was what I wanted to ask about, cause I'm, I apologize, but I'm not totally up on where the Canadian scene is, but it has been passed in certain provinces and it's pending as a federal matter. Is that right?
Jessica Scott Reid: That's right.
So we have varying degrees of ag gag legislation. Some are more all encompassing than others.
Mariann Sullivan: Same here. Yeah.
Jessica Scott Reid: Yes, right.
So the province of Alberta, which is where they have the Calgary Stampede, the big national rodeo. It's a very agriculturally cultured place.
Mariann Sullivan: Ag centered.
Jessica Scott Reid: Very pro ag. So they have probably the strictest ag gag law in the country. They passed it very quickly. Here in, in Manitoba, the province I'm in, we're the top producer of pork in the country. We have an ag gag law that focuses specifically on trucks. So The Save Movement's ability to observe animals in trucks is no longer allowed, and can be fined quite heavily to interact with animals on trucks, even though nobody knows what that means.
Ontario, similarly, and also the island of Prince Edward Island. So there's different degrees and versions across Canada. It's disturbing and now they're considering a federal law, which is equally disturbing.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, it's tragic. And aside from ag gag, I mean, when I was saying before that we all expect Canada to be more progressive than the U. S., but also people sort of think that Canada is probably like the EU and has certain standards you know, about the gestation crate and battery hen cages, but to my knowledge, and correct me if I'm wrong, it really isn't that much different from the U. S. There are not a lot of regulations protecting farm animals.
Jessica Scott Reid: In fact, we're kind of behind. So that's another thing I've been writing about a lot.
Mariann Sullivan: Well, you can't be behind us. You can't.
Jessica Scott Reid: So in terms of, like, moving hens out of cages Canada is behind the US in our progression of that. And also our animal transport. It's surprising. People don't necessarily know that. And also animal transport regulations.
So Canada is considered the worst in the Western world, in part because we have such a big country and animals have to travel so far, either between farms or to slaughterhouses. So we can have animals traveling up to 32 hours at a time in these trucks and we have extreme weather, right? And so just like the US, we don't have climate controlled trucks.
They're big metal trucks where these pigs and chickens and cows are held and transported and there's no laws regarding temperatures above or below which animals can't be transported, whether it's, you know, minus 30 degrees Celsius or plus 30 degrees Celsius here in Canada. They're going every single day over and over and over again and there are animals dying of heat exhaustion, there are animals dying of frostbite, and there's no law saying that they can't do that.
So we are behind the U. S. in a few really, really, disturbing ways.
Mariann Sullivan: You know, I teach animal law at Cornell and last year I had an exchange student from Canada, and I think he was so shocked to find that Canada was so far... on this particular issue. You know, he's used to finding that Canada has a more progressive stance on issues. He was so shocked, and I think it is a secret to a lot of people.
So, what kind of stories do you love covering?
Jessica Scott Reid: Anything and everything. I'll always say, I will cover whatever the media allows me to talk about animals. For me, the greatest stories really are the ones that are reaching audiences that normally wouldn't hear these things. So as much as I love writing for advocacy publications, really getting into places like the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star where you're going to reach a million people who have never heard of this idea before, is really where I like to write the most and here in my local province too, the Winnipeg Free Press, because we are such a agricultural sort of place. I love that they allow me to talk about farmed animal issues in the newspaper here too. So I love to talk about anything and everything. I write a lot about even issues regarding companion animals, we have a really bad dog overpopulation problem in Canada and a lot of people are still buying from breeders. So even issues like that, I like to talk about. Also the progress of our culture towards captivity of wild animals. So Canadians are really shifting when it comes to zoos and aquariums, so we have the Free Willy Act here, where captive whales and dolphins are no longer allowed to be held here and bred here. We still have some grandfathered ones that are still in captivity today at places like Marineland, but there are some shifts happening, and I really like to write about those issues too, to show that there is some progress happening.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. No, I think it's a fascinating issue. It, you know, it doesn't involve that many animals, but they're visible, and people care about them, and you can really reach people. So tell us a couple of your favorites of stories that you've covered, either over the years or recently or whatever.
Just your favorites, either for mainstream publications or for animal friendly
Jessica Scott Reid: I think I like writing about things that then change, which is, doesn't happen a lot, unfortunately. So, things like writing about, the whale and dolphin issue in Canada and seeing that coming to fruition and that bill passing. Also issues like say shark fin, that was another law that was passed where we are no longer allowed to import sell real shark fin.
So seeing things like that, that have actually changed and progressed is really great. But also I love the topics of debunking myths. So for Vox in the U. S. I've written about humane washing in food. In meat, dairy, and eggs. So I really enjoy writing about these things that the average consumer hasn't considered and that I think a lot of conscious consumers who might not be vegan would care about.
So to learn what labels really mean, and what they don't mean. I think that's an important one, and to talk about things like humane meat, you know, busting those myths. And also, now we're talking so much about climate change, I love to talk about regenerative grazing, and grass fed beef, and how it doesn't mean what people think it means, and that the science does not back that cows can save the climate.
So that's a real hot topic these days that I love any opportunity to write about.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I love that it's a hot topic. I bet there'll be more and more opportunities to write about industry lies because they sure don't stop.
Speaking of the industry, is the industry aware of your work? Do they try to get in your way?
Jessica Scott Reid: I have a lot of, uh, a lot of fun on Twitter with farmers. Definitely lobby groups and farmers know who I am, especially here in Canada. They like to seek me out on Twitter and interact with me sometimes, in a not so nice way. I actually wrote a piece for Vice several years ago. I think the title is, What I, A Vegan, Learned From Interacting With Farmers On Twitter For Three Months.
And it really, it really pissed them off because I kind of exploited our, Yeah, and I exploited our conversations with them on Twitter. They, they show their cards so often on social media when they're trying to debate with people like me and other vegans. I get to use those arguments that they give me publicly in my work because I know how to write an opinion piece to counteract what they're already going to say.
So yeah, for sure the industry is aware of me. It kind of gets in my way, sometimes. I can't call and ask about the Canadian horse meat industry, for example. That's a hot topic here as well. And you know, if I want to try and call them and ask a question, they're not going to answer the phone.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, that's really interesting about social media because being harassed like that, it normally feels very bad, but for you every time they say something horrible, you're like getting some fodder for a new article.
Jessica Scott Reid: Exactly.
Mariann Sullivan: So it's a plus
Jessica Scott Reid: Absolutely. I can, and I can handle
Mariann Sullivan: You can do something with all of their their hate. Yeah, that's great. So You've mentioned that in addition to harder news articles or even opinion pieces about animals, you also write about veganism. And, you know, one of these seems like a really hard, controversial topic and the other kind of lifestyle. Though, for us, they're like the same topic, like they're so intimately related, but does it make a difference like what kind of article you're working with and what kind of editor you're working with and the style and the
Jessica Scott Reid: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. There's definitely editors who are more liberal, to allow me to push the boundaries. I know with whom and what publications I could push a little further and which ones I have to stay a little bit more conservative in order to get the piece out there.
Cause that's the ultimate goal, right? I don't want to push it too far where the piece doesn't see the light of day. Or that within the first paragraph, the reader is going say, Oh, That's just a crazy vegan. I'm not going to listen to anything else she has to say. So there's definitely, like I say, that sweet spot to get in there. And sometimes it's talking about food, you know, and then putting a line at the end about animal cruelty in agriculture. Sometimes the whole article is about, you know, the next Beyond Burger, for example, and you just get that in there at the end to be like, oh, and by the way, animals aren't stabbed to make this.
And sometimes that's all it takes, you know, is just to have that one line that a million people are going to read. And even if the rest of it's about a burger.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, that makes so much sense to me, that sounds so exactly right. What about cultivated meat? I mean, it's a huge topic right now here. Well, huge in my world. Most people haven't heard of it still, but we always have to remember about the bubble we're living in, which I guess is a challenge for you as well.
But it is a big topic here because it just got approved by the FDA. Is it also a big topic in Canada or are we waiting on that?
Jessica Scott Reid: I think, like so many things that happen in the U S that Canada's always a little few steps behind. So it hasn't hit mainstream here quite as much, but I know it's coming. I'm preparing to write about it myself. I think it's an exciting innovation. I think it will save animal lives. I know there's a lot of debates about it.
I think generally it's a good idea. There's obviously some things that need to be tweaked to make it ethical, in a lot of people's minds.
Mariann Sullivan: Right.
I think that's where the important conversation for us takes place is how can we make this the most friendly. But having a conversation about whether this should happen or not is kind of a waste of time because it it's not depending on us. It's going to happen whether we like it or not, that's not an issue.
Jessica Scott Reid: And the planet needs it, right? The planet needs it. So I think, we can tweak the animal ethical issues. We can push for that part to be standardized in the industry, but nonetheless, the planet needs it. The people need it. So I'm here ready and waiting for it to hit Canadian mainstream and I'm ready to write about it.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, and, are the climate issues starting to collide more with the animal issues, and, you know, I'm talking to someone from Canada, I can't have this conversation without talking about fire. Like, I assume that's an even bigger story. I mean, I'm in Rochester, New York, so I can't go out today for an, for example, because of the smoke.
But I'm sure it's an even bigger topic there. So tell me about the fire issue and tell me if there's any connection being made with animal agriculture.
Jessica Scott Reid: Yeah, so this was Canada's record breaking wildfire season, and there has been obviously a lot of talk in the media about it. There has been some connection to climate change generally in these media coverage pieces, but the connection to animal agriculture is almost never ever made. It is so frustrating. People want to talk about it in general.
So I don't know if you saw, but this past summer, Faunalytics and Sentient Media put out a really great study about how little animal agriculture is talked about in news stories in the U. S., when they're talking about climate change. And In Canada, it's, I would say, just the same, for sure, so even if we're dealing with one of the most catastrophic seasons ever in terms of wildfires, still nobody wants to talk about the deforestation caused by animal agriculture, and the increased heat of the planet caused by animal agriculture.
So we have people like me who are trying desperately to get that connection made in these media conversations. We also have Nicholas Carter, who is a really well known Canadian environmental research with plantbaseddata. org. And he has been able to get like one line in a CBC article talking about animal agriculture, and it was a big win.
So that's sad, good, but sad. So I think as I was just watching the news today and you can't help but notice. It's weather story after weather story after weather story, right? If it's flooding in this part of the world and heat waves in this part of the world and wildfires in our part of the world. So the conversations about climate change are there. Making that connection to the role animal agriculture plays is still a challenge. I'm going to do my best to keep it going, but I'm just one person. Thankfully we have great outlets like Vox in the US and Sentient Media, who are both really working hard to keep that connection, in your Google searches and in conversations.
Mariann Sullivan: It just really, it boggles the mind, like, how far down this road do we have to go before people wake up? But speaking of sentient media, and to change the subject a little bit into something not so horrible to talk about. Maybe that's everybody's problem, it's just too horrible to talk about. I want to talk about that feature you did for Sentient Media because I thought it was incredibly cool, the Indigenous Voices feature.
Can you tell us about it and then, kind of describe what are the most important things that you hope people took away from those articles? And I highly recommend to anybody to go on Sentient Media and search for it because it's really, really thoughtful pieces.
Jessica Scott Reid: It is, I think, a career highlight for me, for sure. So it was my first time as an editor, which is really cool. Sentient Media allowed me the opportunity to kind of, take the reins on this project. I proposed it to them. It seemed like exactly what was missing and what was needed was to have Indigenous voices weighing in on issues regarding animal agriculture and climate change, plant based foods, and our colonialist past that has led us to this industrialized agriculture space, because a lot of people aren't making that connection either.
So I sought out to find various voices, some of the writers had written things before, some had never done this sort of thing before, and we worked over the course of many months. I think there was, what was it? Seven writers and seven pieces that cover everything to do with the plant based history of the Dine people in the U S.
We have an article about The Colorado River and the use of that water for animal agriculture. and then answering questions like, is veganism anti Indigenous? Because we hear this so often in stories online of people claiming that veganism is anti Indigenous and that veganism is something for white privileged people only.
So the pieces are really, really in depth and they come from an Indigenous perspective, each one written by an Indigenous person. So I think it answers a lot of those questions that are brought up in conversations around veganism, animal rights, and Indigenous cultures that I think a lot of people really need to understand.
There's really great connections there to animals and the planet and the earth. And Indigenous people that we need to be listening to.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, yeah, it's a really important set of articles. Do you feel that that's one of the ways that... I feel like Indigenous voices are more important in Canada than they are in the US. You may be rolling your eyes, I don't know, maybe that's wrong, but you don't know how bad it is here. So, so, that might be the difference.
But I just wonder whether Indigenous voices might be one of the ways that we get people to wake up about what's happening to the planet.
Do you agree?
Jessica Scott Reid: Absolutely. And you know, we're not the first people to say that, of course, Indigenous people themselves have been saying that for years. So the project itself covers the US, Canada, also, New Zealand. And it's all corners of the planet where we should be listening to the people who know the land and the animals better, not the people who moved from somewhere else and, killed off all of the Buffalo, you know, like that's not who we should be listening to. We should be listening to the people who have this passed down knowledge, these knowledge keepers, who know the land better than we do. It just seems simple to me, but they need the platform, and I was so grateful that Sentient Media allowed me and allowed them to take this moment to say what needed to be said so badly.
Absolutely. We need to be listening to Indigenous people when it comes to mitigating climate change, full stop.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I hope those are voices that people are able to hear. And, and because of your work, I think, you know, they are getting out there.
So it'll be a little while after we're talking that this goes up, but I'd still love to know, what are you working on now? And what do you want to be working on?
What's the article that you want to be writing right now? And what, are the things that are popping up?
Jessica Scott Reid: Definitely conversations around climate change, definitely still highlighting knowledge and voices of people who are being stifled by mainstream media, including animals, right? That's my whole thing. I am a white privileged person living in the middle of Canada. And I have this incredible opportunity to write for places where millions of people read.
And I want to do the best I can to illuminate the voices of the people and the animals who are not being heard. So I love to center animals in my pieces. Like, for example, we talked about the shark fin issue. That's one of my favorite pieces from years ago. Because I open it by sharing, describing the experience of a shark being finned and thrown back into the water.
And to me, centering the animals in that way, it's the most powerful because it's, it doesn't happen in media. When you have articles, say for example, we're talking about the dairy industry. When you have articles that are talking about dairy, say, you know, we're hearing about farmers pouring out their milk and how sad we are for the farmers all dumping their milk.
We hear about the farmers. We'll hear from the lobby groups, maybe hear from consumers. Nobody is asking the cows, right? We can't ask the cows.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah,
Jessica Scott Reid: But we can consider them. Maybe we can't ask them, maybe they can't tell us, but we can consider them.
And I want to have the opportunity...
Mariann Sullivan: We can make our best guesses anyway, instead of ignoring them.
Jessica Scott Reid: And we can ask advocates. So that's the other thing too, is I want to give voices to advocates. I always use the example, if we have a story about a child being neglected, we are going to ask a child advocate expert to weigh in instead of asking the child for a news story. That's, that's ethical. That's the way journalism typically works.
No one does that for animals. You could have a horrific story about animals being abused on a farm, you know, an undercover investigation or something. And not always are advocates asked. What do you think is happening with the animals in this case? They'll talk to the farmer who's, you know, making a grave mistake.
This was a one off issue. They'll talk to an industry person. Very, very little are advocates ever asked. And so I, as myself as an advocate, will weigh in when I can, and I will also give voice to other advocates. So other groups, like here in Canada, Animal Justice, for example, or the Fur Bearers, for example, even Zoo Check.
So we have great advocacy groups here, t he Humane Society, who I also want to help illuminate and give voice to. So I will just, I always want to use my opportunity as best I can on my platform, the best I can to give voice
to those who need it the most.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, it really is so true. And so often, not so much in the undercover investigation stories, but like you know, there was a fire somewhere or something. And it isn't even acknowledged that anything happened to the animals other than how much the farmer lost financially.
It's so bizarre how people's minds can just glide over the fact that these are living creatures.
Jessica Scott Reid: Yeah. The barn fire issue is just, it's such a, it irks me so bad. Cause it happens every year, year after year. And I've studied the headlines And I've studied the stories. I find there is some progress happening, maybe because we've been calling it out. Where it used to talk about... I think there was even a point at which they were talking about a barn fire that killed chickens, hens.
It was like based on weight. You know, like how many pounds or kilos of chickens were killed. It's either like money or weight because they didn't know how many animals were in their barn.
It's an insurmountable amount to count, right? It's just thousands.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. It's so shocking. You know what? When I used to read a paper newspaper, which was a long time ago, but you know, I kind of remember. I would get the paper, and I always read the letters to the editor. Like, I always liked to look at what was on the editorial page and the op ed page, the letters were right there, and I don't know why I always read them, but I did.
I think a lot of people do. And I used to write letters to the editor, and sometimes I would get them in. And yet I don't think about them any anymore. Are letters to the editor still an effective way for activists to make a difference vis a vis the press?
Jessica Scott Reid: Absolutely. This is something I advocate for a lot, and I've run a few workshops with, Sentient Media included, as well as here in Canada, Animal Justice Academy, which is Animal Justice's really great workshop program for activists and advocates to learn how to use their voice in a variety of ways.
And one of the workshops I do is about writing both op eds and Letters to the editor. And I'll often say that not only is it great to keep a conversation going. So for example, if I write a story about a barn fire, we don't want that story to just die there, right? We want advocates and activists to write in and keep the conversation going, keep it in the paper as much as possible.
But also to know, even if it doesn't get in the paper, you're letting the editors know that this story matters. So it's even activism, even if it doesn't get published. And I'll often tell people, don't waste your time putting your blurb on Facebook, put that blurb in an email to the letters to the editor.
It's far more effective if you could get it in the paper. I think it's definitely a section people still read and, and that editors pay attention to.
Mariann Sullivan: That's really good advice. And I have to get better at doing that. And sometimes I feel like, you know, you have to work really hard on them. But from what you're saying, if you don't have the time to write a great letter, a perfect letter, just write a letter because it's going to give the editor a heads up that there's somebody out there who cares about this, even if they're not a great writer.
Jessica Scott Reid: And it can be short, you know, the shorter the better, in fact. It should be short. Yeah, like 250 words max.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. That's always the challenge is making it short enough.
Jessica Scott Reid: Exactly, exactly.
Mariann Sullivan: Well, that's great advice. Any other advice on how people should stay in touch with your work or with the work of other people who are writing progressively about animals? Tell us your social medias.
Tell us how people can find out more about the articles you're writing.
Jessica Scott Reid: I'm hoping by the time this comes out, Twitter still exists, cause that's a really great platform for me, so, we'll see.
Mariann Sullivan: Oh, are you getting on? What about threads? Are you going to get on threads?
Jessica Scott Reid: threads?
I haven't done it yet, but probably by the time this comes out, I'll have given in, we'll see. But so far, Twitter seems to be where I have the, the... The greatest following and really great interactions.
I really love conversing with people on Twitter. Lots of great other journalists and activists. So there I met Jess L. Reid, R E I D. Uh, and also Planet Friendly News is also my blog. So Planet F News on Twitter. And then on Facebook and, and Instagram, we're in all those places too.
Instagram is more personal for me, but it's public. And I share all of my vegan food that I cook for my vegan daughter and I. So if you like checking out home cooking, I'm on Instagram at JessLSR, where I share my daily dinners.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. And I want to talk a little bit more about your daily dinners and about your daughter. But, let's hold that off for bonus because I should let you go now on this interview. And it's really been a joy, Jessica. I'm so grateful for everything you do.
Thanks for sharing it with us.
Jessica Scott Reid: Well, thank you. And right back at you. I'm such a big fan. This is a great honor to have the opportunity to talk with you. Thank you so much.
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