ACDC News – Issue 09-03

Punchy drought reporting. “Jim Goodrich is, in a word, desperate. He’s a rancher. He’s used to being, well, concerned. Or worried. Or just dispatching a hard stare into an unforgiving sky. But being desperate is another thing. There’s not a drop of cowboy romance in it.”

With this lead, reporter Mike Littwin of the Rocky Mountain News described the plight of ranchers gripped by drought in southeastern Colorado. His entire article featured this punchy, graphic writing style, which you can review online.

Citation: For dry cowpunchers, a standing eight count

Article posted at:,1299,DRMN_86_4830374,00.html

From journalism to corporate communication in post-war Britain. That is the title of a chapter in Journalism, science and society , a recent book we have reviewed for the Center. Authors Martin W. Bauer and Jane Gregory note a change “from the state and ‘public’ technologies such as nuclear power and space exploration to the reporting of commercial and ‘private’ technologies such as biotechnology.” They describe this as the “medicalization” of science news.

They also examine shifts and frictions between the traditionally skeptical professions (science and journalism) and public relations professions that “minimize controversy and a critical response.”

Citation: From journalism to corporate communication

Check with us at if you want to follow up on this resource.

An honored approach to covering the “local food” scene. We learned recently of a husband-and-wife reporter team at the Anchorage Daily News that earned “News Gem” recognition for a fresh approach to reporting about local foods. In a four-part series, reporter Stephanie Komarnitsky and photographer Stephen Nowers shared with readers the experiences of their week trying to eat only locally grown and raised food.

Jon Marshall’s “News Gems” are presented by the Society of Professional Journalists to highlight the best of American journalism.

Citation: Taste test

The four features in their series are posted at:

Cooking up fresh insights about local foods . A creative initiative, “Schools Harvest,” in New South Wales, Australia, recently involved students, teachers, local producers, chefs and others in dramatizing the whole food supply chain. It was coordinated by staff from the Hawkesbury campus of the University of Western Sydney.

  • Area high school students provided vegetables and meats from their school plots.
  • Working with teachers and the head chef of a local hotel, they designed a special menu and provided waiters for the meal.
  • A community-based organization, Hawkesbury Harvest, also provided some fresh, seasonal produce.
  • On November 21 the students served their meal to 80 parents and teachers.Thanks to Neil Inall of Roseville, Australia, for alerting us to this program.

Citation: Students cook up a treat for teachers and parents

Posted online at:

We’re gaining on it, Hadley. “Nothing would please me more than to see all of our research reference materials filed in one place,” long-time associate Hadley Read reported in a memo dated July 31, 1963. At that time Hadley was extension editor here at the University of Illinois.

We came across his memo last week among some historical references being added to the ACDC collection. It set off a nostalgia binge as we think about efforts here since then to help assemble agricultural communications literature, internationally, and make it available to those who can benefit from it.

Our year-end records show that the ACDC collection now contains more than 33,500 documents, including (we hope) those to which Hadley referred more than 45 years ago.

How would you design an undergraduate agricultural journalism/communications program for the 21st Century?

Recently we were invited to offer thoughts and suggestions about this question, including several specific aspects:

  • Communications skills in which undergraduate students in agricultural journalism/communications need to be most proficient.
  • Particular agricultural areas, if any, in which they need more schooling.
  • Whether they need to be educated in communications theory and research.

How would you respond to these questions? Please pass along your reactions and suggestions. Send them to . They will contribute to progress in this field of professional interest. Thank you.

Communicator activities approaching

  • March 12-14, 2009
    “Return. Rebuild. Renew.” Spring meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in New Orleans, Louisiana USA. Information:
  • 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. Information:
  • May 17-19, 2009
    “Parlez-vouz marketing?” Seminar of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in Montreal, Canada. Information:
  • 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. Information:
  • June 13-16, 2009
    “Branding communications with a kick.” Annual Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Kansas City, Missouri USA. Information:

“Not enough about popcorn!” That unexpected suggestion arrived recently from UK rural journalist Alan Stennett in response to our invitation for feedback. He was referring to a family popcorn project here, a labor of love in the tradition of Walker Evans, Jim’s father. We hesitate to mention the project because:

  • It doesn’t involve documents for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center.
  • It’s not a model of marketing communications in support of “value added” farming. (Most of the “value added” takes the form of free labor.)
  • It reflects use of no new media or advanced farming technologies.

However, it does represent a dimension of “professional development,” an agricultural communicator’s effort to enrich family experiences and stay close to the soil. If you would like to see what’s involved in such an effort you can view a brief feature aired a couple years ago on public television station WILL-TV. The URL is:

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.