Isn’t it wonderful to live in the age of instant gratification? The other day, our editor and I were discussing the Roman Catholic Church’s increasingly strict position on smoking. A Vatican publication had called tobacco a serious moral issue, and we got onto a tangent about the seven deadly sins.
Taco, a secular transplant from “old” Europe, and I, the good wife of a Baptist preacher, could not name them to save our lives. But a five-second Google Internet search later, and there they were, shining wickedly on the screen—pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. (But no mention of smoking.)
During my days as a student, locating that information would have entailed a walk to the library, a good 20 minutes with the card catalog, and another 10 rummaging through the “religion” shelves. Now, a keyboard, mouse and a little cable puts the world at our fingertips.
Today’s instant access is a bit of a mixed blessing, however. To be sure, with the click of a mouse, you can pull up a wealth of information. But the sheer amount of raw data can also be difficult to make sense of. When I type “tobacco prices + Brazil,” for example, I get 1,790 matches, just like that. My computer pulls up lists of leaf grades and articles about local growers’ protests, but nothing that explains how developments there affect tobacco farmers here.
That’s where TFQ comes in. In this issue, our senior associate editor, Brandy Brinson, assesses the situation in Brazil—and places it into context. Brandy and I spent a week in Brazil’s tobacco-growing region, just as the buying season began, witnessing how the local industry is combating inflation, increasing taxes and smaller margins—issues similar to those encountered by tobacco growers here in the U.S.
Among other articles, you’ll also find an update on the U.S. buyout by award-winning journalist Rocky Womack. Rocky was previously editor of Flue-Cured Tobacco Farmer and Burley Tobacco Farmer, and we’re pleased to share his expertise with you.
In this age of globalization and Internet technology, when events half a world away make headlines here immediately, it pays to remember that it takes time to gather news, place it into an appropriate context, and then present it in a manner that is useful to its consumers. Good reporting, like the production of quality American tobacco, cannot be rushed.