ACDC News – Issue 09-02

Remembering the communicator’s real business. Thanks to Brad Schneller for alerting us to a commentary by Paul Berton in the London Free Press ( Ontario, Canada). In this piece, “Not if, but how, we’ll deliver news,” Berton addressed the influence of new media on the newspaper publishing business. “People have been talking for years about the death of newspapers,” Berton noted, “and that may well be inevitable. But media companies will survive and thrive…” More news than ever is flowing, he observed, through a broadening assortment of channels. His point was that the future of newspapers may be unclear, but not the future of news.

Read the commentary posted at

What about the agricultural media? Resources in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center suggest that the same holds true in agricultural journalism. Searching the past century of information in this collection, you can find ample reason to agree with Paul Berton about keeping an eye not only on specific media but also on the communicator’s real business. Following are a few among many examples, across the years, of documented threats and challenges to specific channels used for agricultural information.

(1906) Is the farm paper a has been?
(1938) How radio may modify the functions of the newspaper
(1955) Turmoil in magazines
(1963) Schaller heaps doom and gloom on farm publications
(1975) Farm broadcasting in transition

Naturally, these documents are not available online in full text. However, contact us at if you wish to see any of them. All documents you identify in the ACDC database are available at the Center or elsewhere here in the University of Illinois Library system. That feature is special to a documentation center. We adopted it in ACDC, from the start, to add value for users.

A call for scientists to be advocates, not unbiased consultants. Yes, you read that correctly. Authors of a recent article in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics argued against a two-stage process in which (a) scientists find out the facts, then (b) policy makers decide what to do with those facts. These two stages cannot be clearly separated, according to Stephen Haller and James Gerrie. They also confronted “the technocratic vision where decisions are best left up to the experts,” — where, for example, “scientists would deliver the final word on a policy about SARS, or mad cow, or whatever.”

In their 27-page report, Haller and Gerrie suggested that when scientific claims enter the public policy realm, they must always do so in concert with value claims. In that ordinary process of democratic decision-making, scientists enter public policy debates as “participants in particular interest groups… rather than as supposedly unbiased consultants to decision-makers.”

Citation: The role of science in public policy

How consumers react to food recalls . Most Canadians changed their buying and eating behavior following a recall associated with listeria in ready-to-eat meats, according to a recent survey summary we have added to the ACDC collection. Among the findings of this survey by University of Guelph researchers:

  • 30 percent said they stopped buying ready-to-eat meats from Canada.
  • 27 percent reported eating less often at restaurants and fast-food outlets.
  • 52 percent reported paying more attention to food labels.
  • 32 percent reported cooking more food at home

About 70 percent of respondents said their perception of the safety of meat in general, of food products, and of food as a whole had not changed.

Citation: Consumers changing habits
Posted at

Communications – among the top strategic challenges for U. S. agriculture. A new report from the Farm Foundation examines issues agriculture and policy makers will face during the next 30 years in addressing the challenge of providing food, fiber and energy to a growing world. “Public understanding of agriculture” emerged as one of eight recurring themes vital to agriculture’s strategic role. According to the report:

“Bridging the gap in understanding between agriculture and the broader public will be critical to the development of policies needed to meet the 30-year challenge.”

Citation: The 30-year challenge
News release, executive summary and full report (53 pages) posted at:

Recognizing a new and “virtual” ACDC associate .  We are pleased to recognize and welcome Professor Steve Shenton as a volunteer staff associate in the Center.  Based in Pennsylvania, he brings special interests and strengths in agricultural and rural aspects of free expression, public/civic journalism and community journalism.

Steve’s work with the Center is not new as he has provided helpful documents and leads across the years.  Nor is he a stranger to the agricultural communications program here at the University of Illinois.  During his doctoral studies in communications in the Institute of Communications Research, he served as an outstanding graduate teaching assistant and for three years as an instructor in agricultural communications.  His academic background includes studies in agriculture as well as communications.  He served on the communications/journalism faculty and as its chair at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania for more than 26 years prior to his retirement. We value Steve’s contributions to the Center and appreciate his willingness to contribute through his special expertise and interests.

Sharp eyes and ears for the world. Please let us know if you would like to consider being a volunteer staff associate in this Center. Perhaps you can provide “eyes and ears” in search of information about agricultural journalism and agricultural communications – in your part of the world, or in your special area of communications interest. Why can’t a global “virtual network” of dedicated ACDC associates cover more of this important world of interest without a huge budget? Contact Jim Evans at .

Communicator activities approaching

March 12-14, 2009
“Return. Rebuild. Renew.” Spring meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in New Orleans, Louisiana USA.

April 15-17, 2009
“Hot ideas and sizzling solutions.” 2009 Agri-Marketing Conference sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Atlanta, Georgia USA.

May 17-19, 2009
“Parlez-vouz marketing?” Seminar of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in Montreal, Canada.

June 6-10, 2009
“When tillage begins, other arts follow.” ACE.NETC.09 sponsored by the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) and the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE), in Des Moines, Iowa USA.

June 13-16, 2009
“Branding communications with a kick.” Annual Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Photographing – yes – bee beards . Some of the most interesting agricultural photographs we have seen recently involve “bee beards” growing in Canada. Agri Digest Online , based in British Columbia, posted five eye-catching photos taken at a recent conference of the Western Apicultural Society of North America. These photos featured several brave souls (including a broadcaster) who demonstrated how honey bees can form live beards.

Citation: Bee beards in Victoria, B.C.
View these photos at > Scroll to Agri Gallery

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.