ACDC News – Issue 09-10

More bloggers (including scientists). What about science journalism? Results of a recent Nature News Survey among hundreds of science reporters track the decline of science reporting in mass media. “Supplanting the old media?” is the title of a Nature article, illustrated by a tangle of USB and laptop cords and cables. It highlighted:

  • Traditional media shedding full-time science journalists
  • Growing workloads of remaining science journalists
  • Greater reliance on the public relations departments of scientific organizations
  • More bloggers, including an increasing number of scientists
  • New and diverse employment opportunities for science communicators in government agencies, universities, museums, nongovernmental organizations and other venues
  • Need to “invent new sources of independently certified fact.”

Posted at

New course: Women impacting agricultural communication . Students at Texas A&M University enrolled last fall in a new course focusing on women professionals in agricultural journalism and communication. Teachers Tracy Rutherford and Rebecca McGovney-Ingram planned and taught it as part of a senior seminar. “The course went splendidly,” they report. It featured two areas of focus:

  1. Women who have pioneered and contributed as professional agricultural journalists and communicators, across the decades and in various parts of the career field. Students conducted research and made individual contacts.
  2. Discussion about what it means to be female in this work environment.

A poster describing the course has been added to the ACDC collection.

Contacts: Prof. Tracy Rutherford at or Rebecca McGovney-Ingram at

Part 2. Preparing agricultural journalists/communicators for the 21st Century.

Here are suggestions from Wayne Swegle, past president and an honorary member of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, about how to design an undergraduate agricultural journalism/communications program for the 21st Century:

  • The art of simple writing. “I think…communicating in an easily understood fashion, even in story-telling ways, is still in vogue and important in conveying ideas.”
  • Greater understanding of some of the basic laws/rules of economics, as related to agriculture.
  • “Maybe a little dab [of communications theory and research] wouldn’t hurt anything” at the undergraduate level. “I used to say that ‘If you award a PhD to a journalist, you’ve ruined her/him for useful work.’ … Since then, I’ve been disabused of that thinking, of course.”

Read more of Wayne’s suggestions and reasons he offers for emphasizing them.

104th anniversary of the Danish Guild of Agricultural Journalists . On June 5 the Danish Guild will observe its 104th birthday. This special occasion reminds us of poignant comments made by Torsten Buhl in a jubilee speech of 2005.

“It is our ambition to continue as an important and respected forum of exchanging knowledge and information within food and agriculture, just as the guild has been for 100 years. However, we must continue to combine this exchange of information with critical questions – remembering that sustainable development in any context is closely connected to democracy. And that a free press is a precondition of democracy – and vice versa. … Scientific research, development of agricultural practice, husbandry and industry, care of the environment and so on are closely connected to a free and critical press.”

Title: Jubilee speech at NIMB
Posted at

You are marketing solutions, not food products. That message came through clearly from a speaker at the recent National Institute of Animal Agriculture conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Frank Beurskens of ShoptoCook, Inc., highlighted “Meal planning in the supermarket aisle: what consumers are telling us.” Among the insights from this presentation:

  • What to serve each day is the biggest challenge facing shoppers
  • Many complain about “recipe rut,” especially in preparing chicken
  • Shoppers are especially looking for meal items that kids will like
  • They are begging for variety and want to serve healthful food

Presentation posted, via Truffle Media Networks, at

Busy season for communicator activities

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.

June 22-24, 2009
7th World Congress of Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources in Reno, Nevada USA.

June 25-27, 2009
“Free rein in the Big Easy.” Annual seminar of the American Horse Publishers (AHP) organization in New Orleans, Louisiana.

July 31-August 4, 2009
2009 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in conjunction with the Agricultural Media Summit in Fort Worth, Texas USA.

August 1-5, 2009
“Saddle up, catch the cowboy spirit.” Agricultural Media Summit in Fort Worth, Texas USA. Joint meeting of Livestock Publications Council (LPC), American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the National Association of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT).

Resolved to “be a wiser wordsmith.” Early this year we added to the ACDC collection a column in which agricultural reporter Cyndi Young-Puyear expressed this goal. She captured a desire and challenge shared by many agricultural journalists and communicators, everywhere: “These are words I just love to roll around on my tongue before speaking them, and others I could choke on before spitting them out.”

Not among her favorites: “carbon footprint,” “faith-based,” “at the end of the day” and acronyms that are “unfamiliar to almost everyone outside of production agriculture.”

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.