ACDC News – Issue 08-16

Bad news about readership of food nutrition labels. A new report we have added from the Economic Research Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture paints a discouraging picture of label-reading during the past decade. Consumers reduced their readership of most label components between 1995-96 and 2005-06.  For example:

  • Readership of the ingredient list dropped 11 percent.
  • Readership about calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium dropped 10 percent.
  • Only the use of information about fiber and sugars did not decline.

Planners say they need to review the standardized nutrition labeling that went into effect in 1994 – and review their information campaign approach.

Full 32-page report posted at

Adapting new information technologies to local languages .  A recent article by Don Osborn described an effort to help make information more accessible to people throughout Africa.  There are, by estimate, more than 2,000 African languages.  Discussions during 2004 led to a new Pan-African Localization (PAL) project. It began during 2005 to enhance the localization of technology in Africa, with particular emphasis on development and education.

Information technology is not the only complexity in this process, according to Osborn.  Part of the challenge is “overcoming an apparent mindset that adding a new African language capacity to computers somehow detracts from the existing one, usually English or French.”

Title: Localizing languages

Posted at

How Vietnam consumers responded to early avian influenza outbreaks. In January, 2004, Vietnam became the first country to report H5N1 to the World Organization for Animal Health.  Researchers M. Figuié and T. Fournier examined the perceptions and reactions of Hanoi consumers during four outbreaks of 2004-2005.  Their findings, reported recently in Risk Analysis , revealed that consumers reacted quickly and intensely to stop eating poultry. However, they resumed again when the crisis abated.

“Perceived control of AI has been shown to determine the behavior of Vietnamese consumers with regard to poultry consumption,” the authors concluded.  They offered suggestions about implications for risk communication efforts.

Title: Avian influenza in Vietnam

Sheep may, indeed, never seem the same in the minds of those who have seen artist Jean Luc Cornec’s “telephone sheep.”  Thanks to Steve Shenton for alerting us to a creative art project that fits the interests of agricultural journalists and communicators.  The artist has created a flock of sheep made entirely of recycled telephones and curly phone cables. They have been displayed at the Federal Postal Museum and the Museum for Communications in Frankfurt Main, Germany.

Images are on various Web sites, but you can find a selection of photos of the flock at:

Scroll to the third section that features these sheep.

Why extension agents hesitate to use a Web-based resource . Since 2006 county extension agents in the U. S. have had access to eXtension.  It is a repository of multimedia learning modules based on research conducted by land-grant universities.  We recently added to the ACDC collection the report of a survey by Amy Harder and James R. Lindner shedding light on barriers that may affect agents’ decisions to use this resource. Here are some of the potential barriers they see:

  • Lack of time to learn about it, fit it into their job responsibilities and respond to online requests.
  • Lack of incentives for using the resource and contributing to it.
  • Financial concerns about buying and supporting needed technologies, promoting the resource locally and sharing revenue with multiple partnering institutions.
  • Planning issues such as lack of opportunities to learn about the resource and lack of shared vision for the role of eXtension.
  • Technology concerns, including loss of face-to-face contact with clientele, lack of technical support and training programs, and loss of local control of extension information.

Title: Perceived barriers to the adoption of a Web-based resource

For full-text access, contact the lead author at

Agricultural journalism:  Are they playing our tune again? A recent question from Masaru Yamada, agricultural journalist associate in Japan, has stirred our thinking about trends in journalism education. In the United States (and perhaps elsewhere) journalism education began with specialized journalism, such as agricultural, technical, home economics and engineering.  Then journalism education shifted to a philosophy that a good journalist can cover any subject.

Now, we see increasing need for journalists who understand the complexities of subjects they cover as well as the principles and skills of effective reporting. Why?  As various subject areas expand in size, internationalize and become more complex and fast-changing, we can expect to see more specialized journalists and communicators.  In fact, we already are seeing evidence.  Notice how many specialized journalist associations have formed around areas as diverse as health care, jazz, ethnic interests, religious interests, business, environment, snow sports, military, crime, HIV/AIDS and gender.

Your thoughts?  Examples?  Please pass them along to us at

Communicator activities approaching

October 1, 2008
Deadline for submission of papers for the Agricultural Communication Section of the 2009 conference of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists.
Information: >  “Call for Papers for 2009 meeting”
October 2-4, 2008
“Growing beyond the ordinary.”  Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) to take place in Courtenay, British Columbia.
October 15-18, 2008
Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Houston, Texas USA.
November 12-14, 2008
“Making waves, lifting tides.”  Annual conference of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Great job of selling livestock .  We close this issue of ACDC News with a market report that agricultural columnist Lee Pitts described in a recent issue of Farm World .  It seems that an associate on his newspaper staff once transposed an auction market report in a way that resulted in the following sentence:

“We will continue to have sales semi-weakly throughout the summer.”

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 .

Get in touch with us when you see interesting items in the ACDC collection and can’t gain full-text access through information in the citation, or through online searching.  We will help you gain access.

Updated on