ACDC News – Issue 08-06

New series about boosting rural readership .  During recent months the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists web site has featured a series of articles about ways to attract rural readers.  Uniquely, this series has roots in a set of guidelines described a half-century ago by Donald R. Murphy in a book, What farmers read and like . It summarized findings from more than 20 years of readership surveys and experiments (1938-1961) among farm men and women in two Midwest states.

Our ACDC staff, in producing this series through partnership with IFAJ, invited IFAJ members to review some of those guidelines and evaluate how well they apply today.  Click on these live links to review the reactions and advice online:

“Are guidelines timeless for attracting farm readers?”

“How to create front covers that attract rural readers”

“How to choose subjects and headlines that pull in readers”

“Using color today to boost your rural readership”

“How to use photographs to boost your rural readership”

We extend special thanks to the professionals who contributed to this series and invite any reactions and suggestions you may have.

Traffic light labeling of foods .  If you are not acquainted with this labeling system in the United Kingdom you may be interested in a report we added recently from the Food Standards Agency.  According to the report, a growing number of UK supermarkets and food manufacturers are using traffic light colors on the labels of some products to help consumers make healthful choices.  How does it work?  Each label contains four panels that show at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • A red panel in the label means the food is high in one of those nutrients we should be trying to cut down on:  fat, saturated fat, sugars or salt.
  • An amber panel means the item is “an OK choice most of the time, but you might want to go for green for that nutrient some of the time.”
  • A green panel means that food item is low in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt.

The more green lights, the healthier the choice.  You can see sample labels in the article.

Title: Traffic light labeling

Posted at

Why the internet is no substitute for a library .  Our experience in developing the ACDC collection during the past 25 years has taken us face-to-face with this topic. Internet research helps us find amazing information. Yet from experience we have discovered some limits of it – and some strengths of library collections and services.  So it was a pleasure recently to read a 2007 book by Mark Y. Herring, Fool’s gold: why the internet is no substitute for a library. Herring’s analysis led him to suggest:

“We should be adapting the web as a tool of the library rather than changing the library to fit the web.”

What a day! Staff members of Farm Journal magazine are helping readers share photos of some of their frustrating experiences and activities. For example, a photo in the February issue featured a tractor that had slid into a pond.

“If you’ve had one of those days…we’d love to share it with our readers,” the staff members explained. They invited prints, slides or high-resolution digital images.

You can see an example at: > Search > “what a day” tailgate

Communication – at the heart of change .  Open, participatory information and communication processes lie at the heart of sustainable human and social development.  That message came through strongly in a 2007 report commissioned by the Department for International Development, United Kingdom Government. The report emphasized how media and effective communication processes are often poorly understood, downplayed, used in fragmented ways and feared by those in power.  However, they are:

  • The lifeblood of healthy political processes
  • At the heart of good governance
  • Fundamental to a vibrant civil society
  • A key to efficient, equitable economics

“Helping billions of people currently living in a state of absolute poverty to improve their lives is the greatest challenge facing the world over the next 20 years,” the report concluded.  It suggested ways in which to strengthen communications in that effort.

Thanks to Geoff Thompson in Indonesia for alerting us to this report. Effective work of agricultural journalists and communicators will be vital to success in the challenges it identifies.

Title: At the heart of change

Posted at:

Communicator activities approaching

April 10, 2008
“The nuts and bolts of ag communication.”  Midwest Regional Design and Writing Workshop hosted by the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) in Johnston, Iowa USA.
Information:  Diane Johnson at or Den Gardner at
April 13-15, 2008
“Media relations made easy in HOTLANTA.”  Workshop of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Atlanta, Georgia USA.
April 16-18, 2008
“Leading the charge.”  2008 Agri-Marketing Conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.
April 27-May 1, 2008
“In the pines.”  Annual National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) at the Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle Embassy Suites in Cary, North Carolina, USA.
June 10-13, 2008
“Talk to the hand.”  ACE ’08 conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, in Traverse City, Michigan.  Information:
June 19-21, 2008
“Break from the gate in 2008.”  Seminar of American Horse Publications in Saratoga Springs, New York.
June 21-24, 2008
“Hook, line and sinker: restock your communications tacklebox.”  Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Portland, Maine.

How to stir the creative juices .  We close this issue of ACDC News with a comment by Grant Wood, as reported in a recent issue of the Stockyards Collector .  He created the classic “American Gothic” painting and many others that revealed Midwest folklore and life in the countryside during the early to mid 1900s.

“All the really good ideas I ever had

came to me while I was milking a cow.”

Would you like to see a few examples of Grant Wood creations? Check these sites:

Best regards and good searching . Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. 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 Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

When you see interesting items you cannot find locally or online , get in touch with us. We will help you gain access.