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Issue 12-18

Major challenges to consistent, in-depth agricultural reporting.

A 2009 report we have added to the ACDC collection from the International Women's Media Foundation focuses on media coverage in the agriculture sector of three African countries—Mali, Uganda and Zambia. The report identified five underlying factors hindering consistent, in-depth agricultural reporting: urban bias, gender bias, news bias, lack of policy commitments to agricultural reporting, and money shortage.

It also identified four principal challenges and needs for moving forward:

  • Media managers cited insufficient knowledge of the issues, or lack of in-house expertise, as a major challenge. "We have no resident skills."
  • Training opportunities are scarce. Media houses interested in agricultural coverage may want knowledgeable journalists, but where to get that knowledge was identified as another hurdle.
  • Few agriculture desks exist. Journalists with special knowledge become assigned as general reporters.
  • It is difficult to get to the sources. Media managers cited the cost of sending journalists to rural areas. "Agriculture cannot be well reported from the capital.

These challenges sound familiar—well beyond the three countries on which this study focused. If you know of related research and experience please get in touch with us at: docctr@library.illinois.edu.

You can read the report, "Sowing the Seeds," at: http://iwmf.org/docs/SowingTheSeeds_final.pdf

Please send us your thoughts, experiences and suggestions about challenges in media coverage of agriculture where you live and work. Forward them to: docctr@library.illinois.edu


2011 research about U. S. consumers' trust in their food system

We have added to the ACDC collection a summary report, "2011 Consumer Trust Research," from the Center for Food Integrity, a not-for-profit organization based in Missouri. Feedback from more than 2,000 U.S. consumers identified consumer priorities related to food, then measured what consumers believe farmer priorities are and what they believe farmer priorities should be. Findings also identified primary sources of information about food systems, frequency of Internet access, and views about having access to accurate information to make healthy food choices. A special section identified "messages that matter" in connecting with today's consumer.

You can read the summary at: http://www.foodintegrity.org/research


The seven most deadly sins of agricultural photography

A new professional development feature on the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) website takes a 40-year look at sins of agricultural photography. Written by Mark Moore and Jim Evans, it revisits the principles and skills of composing agricultural photographs. Authors based their current analysis on a 1972 article by agricultural photographer Dennis Eilers.

In the feature you will find brief descriptions of what Eilers identified as the seven most deadly sins of agricultural photography. Authors added current photos to illustrate those problems and show ways to avoid them. They also invited reactions and suggestions about current composition challenges, as compared with those of 40 years ago.

You can read this feature at: http://www.ifaj.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Professional_Development/IFAJPhotoSinsFeature10_12.pdf


"We need extension today, more than ever."

Waded Cruzado, president of Montana State University (USA), offered that advice at the recent conference of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. She emphasized the importance of extension because "our society is growing not only in size, but also in the nature and complexity of its problems. The recent and painful lessons of natural disasters, the threats of man-made catastrophes, of pandemic diseases, and the fragility of the technological systems on which our trust and welfare so blindly reside, give us reason to be concerned. … Plain and simple, we need extension and we are all called to be agents who transmit the message that a better, healthier, happier world is within our reach."

You can read a summary of this speech in a Chronicle of Higher Education account by Scott Carlson: http://chronicle.com/article/Extension-Programs-Now-a/135734/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en


New life when the telecentre funding ended.

Theresa Pittman's recent "Reflections on 20 years in development" provided a useful insight about career paths and rural media in transition. She is chair of the Office of Distributed Learning at the College of North Atlantic, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. She shared her experiences at the 2011 Global Forum on telecentres in Santiago, Chile.

The first North American telecentre opened in Clarenville, Newfoundland, during 1989, she said, with a mission to serve rural residents and their communities. Core funding for telecentres ended in 2002 and each telecentre was divested back to the community. The Clarenville center became sponsored by the College of the North Atlantic, leading to a pilot distance learning project. Now the Office of Distributed Learning involves 10 fulltime programs and more than 250 courses offered online. "This is because distance learning was a direct outcome of the telecentre," she explained.

You can see her forum presentation here.


"How will journalists come to grips with Twitter?"

Ivana Anojcic addressed that question in a 2012 document we are adding to the ACDC collection. The author cited online public relations consultant DraganVaragic in answering it.

Varagic turned to the basic elements of communicating in emphasizing that Twitter is not a source of information; it is a channel of communication. That means "journalists have to verify every piece of information and process it journalistically."


Hosting researchers from abroad

Our ACDC staff members were pleased to host and support the efforts of two researchers who gathered information this month in the Center and elsewhere in downstate Illinois. Hans-Heinrich Berghorn and Claudia Berghorn from Muenster, Germany visited during November 7-12. Their international research project is conducted in support of the regional Farmers' Union, Westfaelisch-Lippischer Landwirtschaftsverband (WLV), with the support of the German and European Farmers' Unions (DBV/COPA). They are identifying benchmarks and best practice examples in agricultural communications in selected countries. The research goal is to help develop new communications strategies for German farmers in the face of growing criticism of agriculture by the media, non-governmental organizations, and society. Agricultural communications is recognized as a key element to answering this challenge.

ACDC staff members extend special thanks to all the agricultural communications professionals, administrators, faculty members, and students who kindly met with the visiting researchers and provided information.


Communicator activities approaching

  • November 26, 2012
    Deadline for submitting papers for the 12th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, May 19-22, 2-013. Organized by Working Group 9.4 of the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP). Information: http://www.ifipwg94.org/ifip-conference-2013
  • January 21, 2013
    Deadline for research papers to be considered for presentation at the annual conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 11-14, 2013. Information: Prof. Karen Cannon: kcannon2@unl.edu

Dare we share these?

We stoop to closing this issue of ACDC News with several food-related puns sent to us by someone best left unnamed. Please pardon us.

  • This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
  • Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC. 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