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Issue 14-06

Starving for agriculture coverage

Canadians are starving for agriculture coverage, Marilee Devries reported in the Spring 2014 issue of Ryerson Review of Journalism. "If food is the world's most essential industry," she asked, "why have newspapers forsaken the farm?"

"The quality of agriculture reporting in the urban press is like a wheat crop infected with fusarium head blight," Devries observed. Her article explored trends in agriculture reporting by newspapers in Canada, causes of slippage and results for citizens and the entire country. She concluded:

"Now Canadian journalists must find a way to tell theAg story, because it's more than nice-to-know information. It's the story of something the whole country—and the whole world—needs: food."

You can read this article at: http://www.rrj.ca/m28589


2014 survey of U. S. consumer perceptions of food technology

The 16th edition of this survey by the International Food Information Council is now available. It is based on a survey of 1,000 U. S. adults, weighted on gender, age, race, education, marital status, region, and income. Among the key findings reported:

  • Confidence in the safety of the U. S. food supply remains consistently high
  • Disease/contamination and handling/prep remain the greatest food safety concerns
  • Consumers have a positive view of modern agriculture and believe biotechnology can play a role in improving multiple aspects of sustainability
  • Most have heard something about food biotechnology
  • The majority still support the current Food and Drug Administration policy for labeling of foods produced through biotechnology
  • More consumers this year are aware of biotech foods in the supermarket
  • Health and government organizations are the most trusted sources for information on food biotechnology, animal biotechnology, and sustainability
  • Millennials and moms differ from the general population on several key factors

You can read an executive summary of the survey report at: http://www.foodinsight.org/foodtechsurvey.aspx


Provide "well-written journalism and accurate facts"—in any medium

Chris Brune, executive director of American Horse Publications, made that point in a recent newsletter commentary we have added to the ACDC collection. A brand can be anything, she emphasized, including a print publication.

"Publishers are the communicators in the equine world. It is your responsibility to provide the horse community with well-written journalism and accurate facts that can be delivered quickly when necessary or with inspiration and beauty for posterity."

You can read this thoughtful commentary at: http://www.americanhorsepubs.org/communication/newsletter_archive

Click on the October/November 2013 issue and scroll to "Writing for the brand."


Protest videos fall short of potential

Researcher Catherine Collins found a major gap in narrative when she examined videos on YouTube about managing old-growth timber in the U.S. and Tasmania, Australia.

"Most videos discussed here do little to explain why one's values and interests should be accepted," she reported. "Arguments to support one's position or refute one's opponent's claims are seldom presented; the protest videos celebrate or denigrate protest without arguing for the rationale behind their position." She argued that such videos "must articulate shared values and compelling reasons for cooperation and joint action, and they must offer well-crafted narratives that have coherence and fidelity for the viewers."

Check with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu if you would like help in gaining access to this case study in the 2013 book, Environmental conflict and the media.


Mobile phone—helping disadvantaged farmers more than those better off

A rural e-service project in India involved special mobile phones carried by young assistants traveling with extension agents in the villages. An assistant used the phone to generate images and audio messaging about the issue or question facing a given farmer, then pass them on to an agricultural scientist for response. Among the findings:

  • More than 75 percent of the farmers viewed these services as useful.
  • More than 95 percent were using more agricultural advice after they were exposed to innovation.
  • The experience of using this mobile phone technology made farmers feel more at ease with new technology.
  • The disadvantaged farmers and poorer communities gained more from this ICT-assisted service than those who were better off.

You can read this 2012 research report at: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/handle/126798


View entries for IFAJ Star Prize in Photography

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists is displaying more than 80 photos entered in the 2014 Star Prize for Photography. These images captured by photographers throughout the world fit into three categories: nature, people, and production. Winning entries will be recognized during the IFAJ Congress in Scotland during September.

You can view the IFAJ Star Prize in Photography entries at: http://www.ifaj.org/contests-awards/photo-contest/2014.html


Farm broadcasters preparing for an anniversary

We enjoyed seeing Tom Brand, Executive Director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, and NAFB Historian Mike Adams when they visited the NAFB Archives here on May 20. They are scouting for materials to feature during the 70th Anniversary Celebration of NAFB later this year.

NAFB has an excellent collection of historical materials, which are maintained in the University of Illinois Archives. If you are interested in learning what they include, you can visit the detailed, online finding aid at: http://archives.library.illinois.edu/archon/index.php?p=core/search&subjectid=3155

You can also identify hundreds of these archived documents by using the ACDC online search system at: http://library.illinois.edu/funkaces/acdc. Some years ago we reviewed the NAFB Archives and identified resources that reveal innovations, impact, issues, and other developments in U. S. farm broadcasting.


Communicator activities approaching

  • June 19, 2014
    Reception of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists at the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh, Scotland. Information: http://www.gaj.org.uk/dates-deadlines
  • June 19-21, 2014
    "Gallop n' Grits." Seminar of American Horse Publications in Charleston, South Carolina. Information: http://www.americanhorsepubs.org/programs/seminars
  • June 24-26, 2014
    25th annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Madison, Wisconsin. Information: http://www.agrelationscouncil.org
  • June 24-27, 2014
    Annual conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Portland, Oregon. Information: https://aceweb.org/index.php/en/2014-conference
  • July 26-30, 2014
    "Rev it up!" Agricultural Media Summit, joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors' Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Agri-Council of American Business Media in Indianapolis, Indiana. Also features the annual meeting of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information: http://www.agmediasummit.com
  • September 4-8, 2014
    "Innovations from a small island." Annual IFAJ Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Aberdeenshire Angus, Banffshire and Moray, Scotland. Information: http://www.ifaj2014.com/action-packed-days

Breath-taking writing skills

Those of us who teach agricultural journalism and communications pay great attention to helping students improve their writing. We close this issue of ACDC News with an unusual suggestion. It comes from Marilyn Johnson in The Dead Beat, her book featuring "the lost souls, lucky stiffs and perverse pleasures of obituaries." Noting one especially-engrossing obituary, she observed:

"It's almost impossible to teach that sort of writing except by pointing students to a stack of clips and telling them, 'Inhale these'."


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, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to docctr@library.illinois.edu