ACDC News – Issue 11-06

“Who really matters?”  A stakeholder analysis tool can help all members of a project team understand the role their stakeholders play, according to authors of a report in Extension Farming Systems Journal .  Nicole Kennon, Peter Howden and Meredith Hartley explained how they developed a tool designed to help project teams systematically and strategically look at the human and social capital resources required to deliver desired project goals.  They reported three case examples of using it in agricultural and natural resource projects.

All types of digital communications are playing important roles as information sources for American farmers and ranchers, according to results of a 2010 national survey we have added to the ACDC collection.  However, agricultural magazines and newspapers “continue to be the most important information sources, reaching and influencing the most farmers/ranchers – even among the younger age segment.” Readex Research conducted the survey in collaboration with the Agri Council of American Business Media. The 14 agricultural media channels analyzed in this survey ranged from dealers, farm shows and seminars to websites, radio shows and text messages. Researchers noted how the role of different media changes through the purchase cycle, emphasizing the importance of integrated communications. More .

The secret of great stories .  In the Center we search diligently for what’s new and promising in the world of agricultural communications.  Sometimes, instead, we discover insights about what’s enduring.  An example caught our attention recently.  It came from Doug Reeler of the Community Development Resource Association in South Africa.  He shared insights from a novel about a traditional Indian story teller, the Kathakali Man.

Kathakali had “discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets.  The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again.  The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably.  They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings.  They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen.  They are as familiar as the house you live in. … You know how they end yet you listen as though you don’t. … In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t.  And yet you want to know again.” More .

Television – especially important media “driver” of food safety opinion. Television coverage of food safety events is an important driver of the public’s opinion regarding food safety, according to a consumer research report we added recently to the ACDC collection.  Persons who rely on television as their primary media source have generally less confidence in the safety of the food system, compared with those who rely primarily on sources such as newspapers, radio, internet and magazines. Data for this ordered probit analysis involved a 67-week period of 2008-2009.

Researchers concluded that media coverage has a significant and negative impact on consumer confidence in:

  • the safety of the U. S. food supply system and
  • preparedness of the food system in dealing with food safety events.

Barriers to open access to agricultural science information. We recently added to the ACDC collection a conference paper about factors affecting the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) for research communication among agricultural researchers in Kenya. Researchers Florence N. N. Muinde and G. E. Gorman found many researchers in the public institutions, especially the universities, hesitant to come to terms with e-communication processes in research, including e-publishing and the open access initiatives and software that can aid free sharing of agricultural science information. Here are some of the barriers identified:

  • Institutional frameworks and policies guiding online communication of government information made scientists unwilling to share research information online.
  • Low budget priority for research communication and ICT.
  • Government control of the telecommunications sector discouraged free flow of information.
  • Lack of appropriate agricultural science information.
  • The individualistic and “silent” nature of computer-mediated communication conflicted with the oral and communal nature of the Kenyan/African culture.
  • Lack of skills to search and manipulate online information systems, write, speak, organize and present research.
  • Lack of institutional repositories limited sharing of scientific knowledge.

How media freedom serves agricultural policy and public good. Here is what researchers Alessandro Olper and Jo Swinnen found in a global analysis of whether mass media have an effect on the political economy of agricultural policies, globally.  They used taxation and subsidization date from 67 countries, observed from 1975-2004.

  • Public support to agriculture is strongly affected by television and radio penetration, as well as by the structure of the mass media markets.
  • In particular, an increase in the share of informed voters and a greater role of the private mass media in society is associated with policies which benefit the majority more. It “reduces taxation of agriculture in poor countries and reduces subsidization of agriculture in rich countries.”
  • They observed that this evidence is consistent with the idea that increased competition in commercial media reduces transfers to special interest groups and contributes to more efficient public policies, as a better informed electorate increases government accountability.

What attendees do during webinars – Results ! What “extra” activities do you think the attendees reported often being involved in during the webinar? In our last issue , we asked you, our readers, to estimate the percentages. How close were you to the Cornell University study results?

ACDC newsletter readers:

  1. Checked e-mail. 21.67%
  2. Surfed the internet 15.0%
  3. Looked up information on the web related to the webinar topic. 30.0%
  4. Sent or received instant messages. 17.50%
  5. Consumed food. 40.0%
  6. Got up and left my computer for part of the webinar. 15%
  7. Answered my telephone. 6.5%

Cornell University study results:

  1. Checked e-mail. 59.7%
  2. Surfed the internet 33.3%
  3. Looked up information on the web related to the webinar topic. 30.6%
  4. Sent or received instant messages. 24.4%
  5. Consumed food. 20.3%
  6. Got up and left my computer for part of the webinar. 8.1%
  7. Answered my telephone. 6.5%

Communicator activities approaching.

  • May 26-30, 2011
    Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Boston, Massachusetts USA. Information:
  • June 10-14, 2011
    Joint meeting of the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) and the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Denver, Colorado USA. Information:
  • June 19-22, 2011
    “Caliente!  Hot ideas for cooperative communicators.”  Cooperative Communicators Association Institute in San Antonio, Texas USA. Information:
  • July 3-7, 2011
    “Sustainable value chain agriculture for food security and economic development.”  2011 World Conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Windhoek, Namibia. Information:
  • July 23-27, 2011
    “Jazz it up!”  Agricultural Media Summit involving the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Livestock Publications Council, Agri Council of American Business Media and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow in New Orleans, Louisiana USA. Information:
  • September 14-18, 2011
    “Experience new world agriculture.”  2011 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Guelph and Niagara Falls, Canada. Information:

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. 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 .

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