ACDC News – Issue 11-18

New mentoring program for agricultural journalists .  A new resource about mentoring agricultural journalists is featured on the website of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).  Agricultural and business journalist Mechthilde Becker-Weigel describes what the Bonn State group of German Agricultural Journalists (VDAJ) offers its members.

“Given that the specialization of agricultural journalists is so varied, I became convinced that we sometimes need support,” she explains. “And that, within the network, we can do many things for each other and help each other.  This is actually how the idea of mentoring in Bonn was created.”

Her feature briefly describes the objectives, participants, contents and process involved in the program.  It addresses agricultural journalists in phases of change and reorientation in their careers.

You can view this mentoring feature in the “New at IFAJ” section on the home page at . Available in English and German language, it was coordinated through the professional development partnership of IFAJ and ACDC.

A call for greater precision in reporting risk data. A close look at media stories about contamination in farmed salmon has underlined the challenges that journalists face in the rhetorical practices they use. Researchers Shannon Amberg and Troy Hall analyzed the precision of data-based reporting in U.S. newspapers about results of two key scientific studies on this subject.  They found that reporters commonly tended to interpret data in ways that amplified or downplayed risks.  Examples:

“unacceptably high” levels

“slightly increase” the risk of getting cancer “later in life”

“far bigger risk” than the cancer concern

“well below” the FDA tolerance level

nutritional benefits “far outweigh” any leftover “trace” of PCBs

“Even highly precise numeric data were often presented in ways that were likely to confuse readers,” the researchers observed in this Science Communication article.

View the abstract here:

Check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

Widespread use of e-book about ICT in agriculture. Thanks to Dr. Ehud Gelb, Israel, for an update about use of the public domain free e-book, ICT in Agriculture: Perspectives of Technological Innovation. We called attention to it in an earlier issue of ACDC News and are pleased to learn it is getting widespread use.

“The book was accessed last year 300,000 times,” Dr. Gelb reports. “This year the trend is towards at least double that.”

He explains that ICT in Agriculture serves those who plan, initiate, develop, design and/or adopt information and communication technology programs.  Authors are professionals with at least 20-25 years of hands-on experience with ICT adoption. In chapters of 4-5 pages, they share insights about approaches, constraints, obstacles encountered, pitfalls and other potential detrimental problems.

You can read the book by visiting the cover page at this address. Then proceed to the “Table of Contents” that includes links to the identified chapters.

What’s happening in research about digital divides .  A recent commentary in Media, Culture and Society examined gaps and advances in research about digital divides during the past two decades.  Author Panayiota Tsatsou argued that:

  • Inequalities in the adoption and usage of information and communication technologies continue to frame the concept of digital divides.
  • Many aspects and forms of divides co-exist today, leading the concept to be defined and approached in various ways by contemporary research.
  • Future research should move beyond access and usage indicators.  It should also explore socio-cultural and decision-making dynamics, including research that places within context indicators such as quality and variations in usage.

You can read the abstract of this article here:

Check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

Another suggested survival skill for new journalists in an internet era. Thanks to Geoffrey Moss of Wellington, New Zealand, for adding this skill to the list we featured in a recent issue of ACDC News:

  • “Who you know is more important than what you know.  Spend time building networks by giving a useful service and by building trust with potential clients.”

A sampling of books we’ve reviewed recently .  Searches for information about the communications aspects of agriculture continue to take us into fascinating territory.  You may be interested in some of the books in which we have found such information during recent weeks.  You will find detailed information about those of interest to you by using title searches in the ACDC search system:

The digital divide: facing a crisis or creating a myth?

The link between animal abuse and human violence

ICT4D: information and communication technology for development

Ain’t that a knee-slapper: rural comedy in the Twentieth Century

Crisis communications: a casebook approach

African women and ICTs: investigating technology, gender and empowerment

Women and the animal rights movement

Smoke or steam: a critique of environmental issues

The electronic front porch: an oral history of the arrival of modern media in rural Appalachia and the Melungeon community

Radio: a post nine-eleven strategy for reaching the world’s poor

Digital color grading makes subtle changes more powerful . We recently added to the ACDC collection a journal article that describes the heightened potentials for digital color grading.  It mentioned, for example, a rural melodrama film designed almost entirely in brown, gray and earth tones.

Do digital technologies represent a revolution in uses of color?  Author Scott Higgins suggests not.  He advises that color grading via digital technologies “reminds us to view them against a historical background that emphasizes continuities, ancestry and the enduring sway of craft norms.”

You can read the abstract of the article here:
Check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

Communicator activities approaching.

  • November 15-18, 2011
    “Innovations in extension and advisory services.”  International conference in Nairobi, Kenya.  Sponsored by a variety of national, regional and international partners.Information:
  • January 23, 2012
    Deadline for submitting research papers for presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the International Association of Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Annapolis, Maryland USA. Special Interest Group in Research invites papers relevant to agricultural communications.  A companion recognition program for graduate student papers also is available. Information: Prof. Courtney Meyers at

Sorry, but we can’t resist closing this issue of ACDC News with several more fragments of online wisdom sent our way recently, a couple of them with a “food and drink” theme.  Please forgive us.

  • A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
  • She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
  • (And for harried agricultural journalists) No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

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 Comm Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

( N.B. We have added inline URLs (instead of embedded links) to our newsletter items based on a reader’s request. As always, if you have any feedback for us, don’t hesitate to contact us.)