ACDC News – Issue 09-17

How U. S. crop growers are using social media . A new document in the ACDC collection summarizes results of telephone survey research during early 2009 by Nicholson Kovac, Inc., among large-acreage corn and soybean growers in U.S. Some of the highlights:

  • Sixty-two percent said they have sent or received text messages during the past year.
  • Forty-eight percent of those texting said they send five or more texts per day and 63 percent said they have taken photos with their mobile phones.
  • Forty-seven percent said they spend five hours or more per week online.
  • For their business/farm interests, growers said they use Internet most for e-mail and weather and market information.
  • Eighty-five percent said they visit Web sites related to their farm operations and 76 percent check manufacturers’ Web sites.

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“My writing style is indeed idiosyncratic,” says agricultural writer Sue Edmonds of New Zealand. This “late blooming” journalist in the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators is featured on the web site of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). She shares some thoughts about her career, how she gets story ideas and how she approaches agricultural writing. She also provides several samples of her writing.

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Touch-screen learning breaks literacy barriers. “Livestock Guru” is the name of an interactive computer program proving helpful to livestock producers, even those unable to read. Created by researchers at the University of Reading, UK, it teaches farmers how to diagnose, prevent and treat specific animal diseases. Experiences in Bolivia revealed that producers using Guru showed up to 44 percent increase in basic knowledge. This response was 10 percent better than that from conventional media such as videos or written materials. Guru had also been used with success in India and Kenya at the time of this 2006 report we have added to the ACDC collection.

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Greater transparency – greater public uncertainty – then what? Researcher Lynn Frewer examined that matter in a Toxicology Letters article we added recently to the ACDC collection. “Increasing …pressure has been directed toward maximizing transparency in risk management practices,” Frewer noted. “As a result the uncertainties associated with technical risk assessments…will increasingly be subject to public and stakeholder scrutiny. It is therefore important to communicate this uncertainty in an explicit and understandable way that is focused on the information needs of target audiences.”

Is the public able to understand and deal with uncertainty about complex risks? Frewer examines research about this question (answering “yes”), calls for more research and urges institutions to “learn how to internalize public views and societal values into the process of risk analysis.”

Abstract and full-text purchase information at

“Masses have sense.” Lynn Frewer’s thoughts about abilities of the lay public to understand complex risks remind us of a 1960 document in the ACDC collection by Samuel Lubell. He spent a career analyzing opinion trends (including research among farmers and others in rural areas). His observations prompted him to emphasize several points:

  • It is not true that the masses of people are less able than the more educated to master complicated detail. “I have done surveys of attitudes on automobiles and lawn-growing and have been astonished at the amount of complex, technical information the average man possessed on things that interest him .”
  • In voting, professors are as emotional and irrational as ditch-diggers.
  • “In the light of this, it is difficult to believe that the general public is inherently incapable of understanding complex public issues.”

This document is not in digital format. Check with us if you are interested.

Students learning rural journalism, hands-on . Using a two-part video series, students in a community radio class at West Virginia University documented their experience in learning how to help local residents tell their own stories. Class members teamed with teachers and students of Monroe County Vocational Technical Center to create a local news program, “News at noon.” It was aired daily on an FM station based at the Center. Class members mentored and otherwise helped the high school students and local residents learn how to cover and report news of local interest. Beyond the skills involved, college and high school students alike said they learned about the value of community radio.

View the video at > Search on “grassroots journalism”

Communicator activities approaching

October 15, 2009
Deadline for submission of abstracts of papers and posters to be presented at the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD) XIIIth World Congress, Montpellier, France, April 26-29, 2010. Theme: “Scientific and technical information and rural development: highlights of innovative practices.”

October 15-18, 2009
Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Houston, Texas USA.

October 18-25, 2009
“The state of forestry information worldwide.” Special session at the XIII World Forestry Congress 2009 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

October 30, 2009
Deadline for research and professional papers to be presented in the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) conference on February 6-9, 2010, in Orlando, Florida.
Information: > “Call for Papers for 2010 Meeting”

November 11-13, 2009
“Connecting: 2010 and beyond.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Closing with a farm limerick . We close this issue of ACDC News with a limerick that caught our eye recently (yes, really) in the February 1, 1912, issue of Prairie Farmer .

A town chap who played in the band
Felt a call to go back to the land.
When he raises big corn
He can blow his own horn,
An advantage you’ll all understand.

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.