ACDC News – Issue 12-01

Welcome to the first 2012 issue of ACDC News.

We hope you enjoy and find value in a new year of research, updates, and perspectives from the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center based at the University of Illinois. This Center began in 1982 through the frustration of faculty members who were expanding their teaching and research agenda, but lacking resources to do so.

How wrong we were in thinking that little of such information existed. What began as a small teaching file has become a unique international resource and service. This collection passed the 37,000-document mark during 2011. Resources in it involve communications aspects of agriculture, food, feed, fiber, renewable energy, natural resources, and rural development in more than 170 countries. What you read in ACDC News only scratches the surface of information flowing into this online-searchable collection. We hope you enjoy these selected resources.

Internet killing rural community journalism?

Not if you build a sustainable model. The successful efforts of a publisher in rural Maine received attention in a recent journal article we added to the ACDC collection. Authors described the experiences of Richard Anderson who “has found a formula for sustainable news coverage in an age when the Internet seems to be killing the news business.” Here are some of the key ingredients identified:

  • He started with a website, specializing in quick, hard news, community service, citizen involvement, and community leadership. “We were organizing affinity groups.”
  • He then added weekly newspapers, developing software that could convert Web content into print content. They attracted print advertisers and provided context for the timely information that online news service provided.
  • “We put feet on the ground.” (skilled editorial staffing to provide local news and build trust)

You can read the article, “VillageSoup: sustaining news in a rural setting,” at:

A scenario approach to communicating about climate change .

Recently we added a commentary about how to communicate in a world of massive climate change “drivers” and unending options for responding to them. Ricardo Ramirez invited consideration of staging climate scenarios. That is, develop “what if” and “what next” stories—perhaps on stage—using rich narratives by characters with whom citizens can identify.

“You will see people like yourself in probable situations in the near future, you will identify with the bold decisions of some, and with reluctance to change of others. … sometime soon you too will be ‘on stage.'”

You can read this commentary, “Climate change communication—time for the stage?” at:

More about “when the digital data die.” Thanks to Steve Shenton for these thoughts and suggestions regarding our recent item in ACDC News about this matter:

“On the digital recopying issue, lots of stuff I have on disks and CDs cannot be read on newer computers as software updates exclude files made in older software. So having a paper copy of research that can be scanned into new software is of critical importance. Also, if your archive manager has a passion for throwing out…old stuff, guard your paper copies with your life.”

If you have thoughts on this subject please pass them along to us at

How food risk managers view efforts toward traceability in Europe.

A team of researchers from the Netherlands used Delphi methodology to understand how food risk managers view the efficiency of existing traceability systems in Europe. Findings reported in the British Food Journal revealed that:

  • Effective food and ingredient traceability systems have the potential to improve food safety.
  • Further refinements in operationalisation are required.
  • Efficient communications with consumers about the advantages of traceability will be necessary if they are to gain confidence in the safety of their food.

You can read the journal publisher’s abstract at :

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

Viewing rare breeds of poultry. Recently we became aware of what is described as the largest existing single collection of portraits of rare poultry breeds. The WATT collection includes 57 framed oil paintings created by three American artists between 1926 and 1950. J.W. Watt, founder of Watt Publishing Company and long-time publisher of the Poultry Tribune , commissioned them.

You can view a brief video showing some of them and describing them at:

Honoring their ag communications teacher. Former students, associates, and other friends are grieving at the recent passing of an exceptional agricultural communications teacher here at the University of Illinois. Bob Siebrecht taught agricultural photography and reporting for nearly 30 years, inspiring a generation of students with his insights, skills and caring spirit.

You can see a display of their photos and letters posted in Bevier Hall on the University of Illinois campus:

Welcome to Stephanie Pitts-Noggle , new academic coordinator and webmaster in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. As new ACDC graduate assistant, Stephanie joins us during her master’s degree studies in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She holds special interest in data curation and archival work. Her prior studies include a M.A. degree in art history, University of Chicago; and a B.A. in art history and classics, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada).

Stephanie also brings to the Center her useful skills and experience in website management, relational databases, editing and proofreading (including cookbooks), and online research—plus a full measure of enthusiasm.

Picture of Stephanie Pitts-Noggle

Communicator activities approaching.

  • 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
  • February 5-6, 2012
    Agricultural Communications Research Meeting at the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists Conference, Birmingham, Alabama USA. Registration online at:
  • February 17, 2012
    “Food and Agricultural Communications: The Next Frontier.” Industry-wide symposium hosted by the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences and the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Information:
  • March 22-23, 2012
    Annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Charleston, South Carolina. Information:

Word of caution to professionals. We close this issue of ACDC News with a piece of advice from a veteran agricultural communicator, Gene Hemphill. He offered it during a session at the 2011 Agricultural Media Summit:

“Don’t ever think you’re so good in your profession that you can’t pass out the doughnuts.”

Thanks for your interest, encouragement, ideas and help .

We look forward to a new year of identifying and providing information that helps you communicate effectively about agriculture and grow professionally in this broad, dynamic, vital field of interest. And we look forward to being in touch with you. 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

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