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Issue 11-17

 Survival tips for young journalists in an internet era.  Veteran Canadian journalist Carol Goar suggests operating as a sheep that parts company with the flock.  Here are eight ways she suggested doing so in the internet era "with its fractured audiences, proliferating platforms, shrinking attention spans and still-unclear economic rules."  She offered them in a new book, Media Values, we reviewed recently.

  • Learn to use your journalistic skills proficiently in whatever medium you choose.
  • Try not to personalize issues.
  • Strive not to sound preachy or look self-righteous.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Be aware that one bold departure from conventional wisdom or one brilliant piece of writing won't turn the tide.
  • Pay attention to what's going right.  People have an appetite for positive news.
  • Be prepared to face criticism, to be unfairly labeled, to be ignored by the too-busy-to-care majority.
  • Decide which is more important to you: your moral compass or your financial security.

You can read the publisher's summary of this book here, or get in touch with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu.  What survival tips might you add?


An overview of consumer willingness to pay for meat attributes.  The International Journal on Food System Dynamics recently reported results of a meta-analysis of 23 studies about this subject between 2000 and 2008.  Researchers Gianni Cicia and Francesca Colantuoni found, for example, that:

  • Consumers are willing to pay 22 percent above the base price for the attribute "food safety."
  • When on-farm traceability is available, consumers appear willing to pay a premium of nearly 17 percent over the base price.
  • The attribute "animal welfare" elicits a premium of 14 percent over the base price, "showing consumers' interest about the life quality of domestic animals."
  • European consumers are, on average, willing to pay more for meat traceable attributes than are North American consumers.

How policy disclosure and information sharing affect farm management.  Thanks to agricultural journalist Masaru Yamada for contributing his research thesis about this subject to the ACDC collection.  Masaru is senior staff writer of The Japan Agricultural News and executive committee member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. The title of his thesis, which is in Japanese:

"Challenge for communication improvement in farm management - a study on effects on farm management of policy disclosure, information sharing, and the role of journalism"

This is a valued addition. We look forward to helping preserve it and make these findings known and available, internationally. Please contact us at docctr@library.illinois.edu to gain access to this document.


"The scientists think and the public feels."  Three University of Reading (UK) researchers offered that perspective after they analyzed how experts and non-experts approach debates about crop and food genetic modification (GM).  Their analysis appeared in a 2004 issue of Discourse and Society that we added recently to the ACDC collection. Based on in-depth interviews with scientists, non-experts and other stakeholders, authors observed that people frame the subject in various ways they may find valid, such as:

  • Morally (Is it justifiable?)
  • Economically (What does it cost?)
  • Socially (Who benefits?)
  • Politically (Who controls it?)
  • Aesthetically (Does it make food more pleasing to the senses?)
  • Scientifically (Is it safe?)

"Conversely, scientists tend to see only the frame of empirical objectivity as legitimate.  Other frames are viewed as irrelevant, or even dangerously anti-science…"   Authors found that GM scientists tended to see communication "very much as the transfer of information, and the main concern was with how their technically complicated understanding of GM could be simplified to become accessible to the scientifically uneducated."

Read the abstract here. Check with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu for help in gaining full-text access.   Do you have thoughts, or other references to suggest, about this topic? 


New global overview of farmer-to-farmer video.  Special thanks to Paul Van Mele of AGROinsight, Ghent, Belgium, for alerting us to a new 47-page report, "Video-mediated farmer-to-farmer learning for sustainable agriculture."  It includes a comprehensive, timely summary of feedback during 2011 from more than 500 people across the world who responded to his online survey. The report highlights these topics:

  • Video in agricultural extension
  • Models of producing and disseminating farmer training videos
  • Agricultural videos on the internet
  • Feasibility of web-based platform for video sharing: need, proposed content, opportunities and challenges

Rhetoric or reality? The mobile phone "revolution" in Africa.  The continent is home to 350 million mobile phone subscribers, reported Sebastiana Etzo and Guy Collender in a 2010 article in African Affairs.  Moreover, "their numbers are growing faster than anywhere else in the world." Penetration rates at the time of reporting averaged over 33 percent across Africa. The authors reported sample agriculture-related uses:

  • Veterinarians in Zanzibar collecting health information by mobile phone
  • Foresters in Ethiopia monitoring tree planting projects
  • Rural health workers collecting data, calling ambulances, educating, diagnosing
  • Growers gathering market and weather information, as well as trading

Authors also identified limits and risks, such as:

  • Contributing to widening the gap between the poor and the poorest
  • Literacy and language issues

Advanced technologies can be used in positive or negative ways, they cautioned.

For access from the publisher, visit here. Or check with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu for help in gaining access.  Please let us know if you can recommend other references about rural uses of mobile phones.


Thanks to Fred Myers for Running the Gamut.  This veteran agricultural journalist recently contributed to the ACDC collection a copy of his new book of writings.  In fact, he kindly provided not only the published book, but also a loose-leaf paper copy and a CD for electronic access.  Recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Agricultural Editors' Association, Fred has assembled more than 120 professional development columns he wrote for the AAEA newsletter and his own website during the past 20 years.  We already have more than 40 of his columns in the ACDC collection, so will be able to add another 80-plus for future reference.

Across the years, Fred has been an active mentor, cheerleader and conscience for agricultural journalists.  His writings have ranged broadly across topics as diverse as:

  • "What a few words can do"
  • "Giving wings to the eagle within"
  • "The erosion of truth"

We are entering into the ACDC database not only his new book, but also his individual columns. So you will be able to identify all of them and gain access through an Author search (Myers) on the "Document Search" page of our website.


Communicator activities approaching.

  • 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
  • January 23, 2012
    Deadline for submitting research papers for presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the International Association of Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Annapolis, Maryland USA. Special Interest Group in Research invites papers relevant to agricultural communications.  A companion recognition program for graduate student papers also is available. Information: Prof. Courtney Meyers at courtney.meyers@ttu.edu

A subtle way to say, "Get busy."  We close this issue of ACDC News with a remark quoted in Eleonora Gullone's book chapter, "A lifespan perspective on human aggression and animal abuse."

"The difference between what we know and what we do
is greater than the difference between what we know and don't know.
Therefore, our need for action is currently greater
than our need for more research."

Source: Andrew Linzey (editor), The link between animal abuse and human violence.  Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, UK.  2009. 


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