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Sep 22, 2011

Issue 11-15


Excellent global conference of agricultural journalists.  Hearty thanks to members of the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation for hosting an excellent 2011 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Ontario this month. 

ACDC associates Karlie Elliott Bowman and Jim Evans were among those who took part. We in the Center are pleased to support the professional development mission of IFAJ in two special ways. During the past five years we have prepared and coordinated dozens of features for posting in the Professional Development section of the IFAJ website.  Also, during the past year the Center has coordinated what is now the monthly IFAJ newsletter, with Karlie serving as editor.

Interested in an overview of this lively, informative IFAJ Congress?  Check out the IFAJ website and the IFAJ Congress website. Some of the presentations will become part of the ACDC collection.


Four core challenges to Extension.  We have added to the ACDC collection a presentation from the 2010 Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development. Magdalena L. Blum of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations emphasized four core challenges to extension and advisory services:

  • Provide tailored advice, not a method or technology "fix."  Diverse clients and situations require tailored advice and a menu of options.
  • Increase equity and accountability.  This involves pluralism, "breaking with gender and wealth biases," and stakeholder involvement and empowerment.
  • Address human resource constraints.  New skills are needed, educational levels are dropping and agricultural education institutions are in a serious state of decline.
  • Generate sustainable, effective investments and financing mechanisms, including public commitment to reach the poor.

You can view the visual presentation here.


Will better understanding of gene technology improve public acceptance of it?  Not likely, according to results of a recent study reported in Science Communication.  Research in Switzerland led researchers Melanie Connor and Michael Siegrist to conclude: "Based on our results, we have serious doubts as to whether educating the public about gene technology or gene technology modules in biology teaching would result in higher levels of acceptance of this technology."  Three main factors appeared as important in predicting people's acceptance of gene technology applications:

  • Their perception of benefits of the particular application
  • Their perception of risks of the particular application
  • Their trust in regulating institutions

This does not mean that the public should not be informed about gene technology, the researchers added.  "Providing information is necessary and may reduce misconceptions."

View the abstract here.  Check with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu for help in gaining full-text access.


"Surprisingly, potato farmers are using more electronic technology than university students."  That report came recently from two University of Idaho researchers. They surveyed 215 persons in four groups - two classes of agriculture college students and two groups of potato growers who attended educational programs. Regression analyses of responses about awareness and use of 21 electronic technologies showed that:

  • Potato growers were more aware of electronic technologies than were the students.
  • After accounting for participant age and the influence of other explanatory variables, growers used 3.5 more of the 21 technologies than the students.
  • A person's choice of news source and reading for pleasure can be indicators of electronic technology use.

Authors of the report offered six implications for Extension practitioners.

Issues facing journalists in rural northwestern Pakistan.  "The state of journalism in FATA" is the title of a conference report we added recently to the ACDC collection. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) includes seven tribal agencies and six adjacent frontier regions in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.  Most of the largely rural population depends on forestry, livestock and crops for subsistence.  This report describes the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), which "has struggled for the protection of journalists in an area where press laws do not exist."  The report summarizes a consultative dialogue among national and TUJ journalists to:

  • Explore the present state of the media in the tribal areas and issues that journalists face
  • Strengthen linkages between the national and tribal journalists
  • Discuss how journalism can promote democracy, human rights and development in the region

A second Dark Age coming - when the digital data die.  One of the communications books we reviewed recently has no special agriculture dimension.  However, being especially interested in information to help "feed the future," we took interest in Dark Ages II: when the digital data die.

The United States, said author Bryan Bergeron, "is poised to enter a second Dark Ages - a time when what we leave behind will be viewed as negligible compared to the previous centuries. Although the causes are very different from those that precipitated Europe's Dark Ages, we are gambling…"

He was referring, of course, to the fragility and limited lifetimes of media platforms, machines, infrastructure, software and data - even microfilm, the current standard for archival purposes. Risks of information management and preservation easily keep us up at night, even as we mirror approaches of the University Library system of which we are a part. 

You can read a review of the book here.


Communicator activities approaching

  • October 15, 2011
    Deadline for submitting research and professional papers for the Agricultural Communication Section, Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists conference to take place in Birmingham, Alabama, February 4-7, 2012. Information: http://sites.google.com/a/extension.org/saasagcomm "Call for Papers for 2012 Meeting"
  • November 9-11, 2011
    "Insight for agriculture…every day."  Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri. Information: www.nafb.com
  • November 9-12, 2011
    "Innovative approaches for agricultural knowledge management: global extension experiences."  Conference of the International Society of Extension Education, New Delhi, India. Information:  http://inseeworld.com/conference.htm
  • November 15-18, 2011
    "Innovations in extension and advisory services."  International conference in Nairobi, Kenya.  Sponsored by a variety of national, regional and international partners. Information:  http://extensionconference2011.cta.int

More rural humor floating around the Web.  We close this issue of ACDC News with several puns showing an agricultural tinge.  Did you launch these on the Internet?

  • The fattest king in King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.  He acquired his size from too much pi.
  • A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
  • Two silk worms had a race.  They ended up in a tie.

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to docctr@library.illinois.edu.