ACDC News – Issue 13-10

Five new research articles in the Journal of Applied Communications

The first 2013 issue of JAC features these five research articles:

  • “Visual communications: an analysis of university students’ perceptions of rural America based on selected photographs.”
  • “Usability testing and evaluation of Texas Tech Sorghum Research Initiative website.”
  • “A case study of the risk and crisis communications used in the 2008 salmonella outbreak.”
  • “Competencies needed by agricultural communication undergraduates: An academic perspective.”
  • “Agricultural issues on the ballot: A case study of the 2009 Ohio Issue 2 campaign.”

JAC is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that features communications about agriculture and related fields. You can review these new articles online at:

“The mythic dream of a house in the country”

A recent article in Brazilian Journalism Research revealed evidence that urban residents hold the mythical dream of a house in the country as “a way to reject the disenchantment with the world and to insist on hope.” Researcher Gislene Silva used questionnaires, telephone interviews, and personal talks with Globo Rural subscribers who live in São Paulo and own no rural property.

Findings showed that when dreaming of a house in the country urban readers do not simply turn nostalgically to a rural past. “In fact, they express their deep criticism of the civilizing model of urbanity in the metropolis at the present time and, looking ahead, they imagine a better future away from the city in a rural environment, closer to nature, with a place with more solidarity, away from violence, heavy traffic, pollution, and therefore with improved quality of life.”

You can read this journal article at:

Beef steak branding—a tricky, changing business

Analysis of nationwide retail scanner data helped a team of U.S. researchers reveal the complex behavior of consumers in buying branded beef steak. Findings suggested that most branded steaks garnered premiums along with organic claims, religious processing claims, and premium cuts (e.g., tenderloin, porterhouse, T-bone, top loin). However, varied factors can influence brand value. Among them: (a) new brands targeting emerging consumer trends, (b) brands with regional prominence, (c) brands positioned as special label, (d) program- or breed-specific production, and (d) store reputation.

Authors concluded, “The dynamic nature of the retail beef market suggests that marketers must track perceptions over time and continually align their product and branding strategies with changing views.”

You can read this journal article at:

Newly-posted oral history of an agricultural communicator

You can now listen to three oral history podcasts that feature the life and career of K. Robert Kern. He is a long-time faculty member at Iowa State University, the 1965-66 president of what is now the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE), and 1984 recipient of the ACE Professional Award. It is the highest recognition given by the organization to one of its members.

These podcasts were posted recently on the ACDC website. They are part of an Agricultural Communication Oral History Project conducted by Natalie Daily Federer, doctoral candidate and Extension professional at Purdue University. They feature:

  • His professional path from 1941 through a “third retirement” in 2002.
  • The growth and contributions of ACE in connection with his own career, trending toward a broadening role from agricultural editing, toward that of communicating more strategically, and across a widening agenda.
  • Thoughts about the international aspects of ACE, including the contributions of ACE members and agricultural information units working on international fronts.

This project, supported by the ACE Professional Development Fund, “takes steps to capture and share historical perspectives, experiences, and memories of those working within the community.” More oral histories are in production.

You can listen to the K. Robert Kern podcasts at:

Passing of a special associate

We are saddened at the passing on June 7 of Stephen G-M Shenton, a 45-year friend and associate to the agricultural communications program here at the University of Illinois. Steve served the program from 1968 to 1973, first as a graduate teaching assistant during his doctoral studies and later as instructor. Then, during his 26-year career on the communications faculty at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, he maintained his active interest, support, and contact here. In fact, even as an emeritus professor he continued as a volunteer associate in the ACDC. We always valued his counsel, expertise, and sharp eye for useful information about agriculture-related journalism and communications.

Steve brought to his students a remarkably broad perspective on communications, from practical, hands-on reporting skills to the historical and theoretical dimensions that consistently surprised them and stretched their vision. He was progressive and creative in his use of teaching concepts and methods. Students soon found that he cared about them, wanted to help them learn and had the command of subject matter and teaching skills to do so. His keen and refreshing sense of humor, direct style, and caring spirit teamed well with his strong sense of honesty. We will miss him, and are grateful for his friendship. (Jim Evans)

Photo of Steve Shenton

Communicator activities approaching

  • July 22-24, 2013
    “Emerging priorities for scientific and agricultural information.” 14th World Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists in Ithaca, New York. Information:
  • August 3-7, 2013
    “Just wing it!” Agricultural Media Summit sponsored by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Agri Council of American Business Media in Buffalo, New York. Also hosts the annual conference of the student organization, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information:
  • August 26-28, 2013
    “Transformative change: chosen or unchosen—pathways to innovation, resilience and prosperity.” International conference of the Australasian-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Information:
  • September 1-5, 2013
    Annual Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina. Information:
  • September 18-20, 2013
    Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) in Park City, Utah. Information:

Closing with a thought about learning and thinking

How many hundreds of times have we walked past Gregory Hall, home of the College of Media here at the University of Illinois? Why hadn’t we looked upward at the west entrance and seen this thought from John Milton Gregory, first Regent of the University? Thanks to Scott Heiberger, communications specialist with the National Farm Medicine Center, for alerting us to it when he visited us at the ACDC last week.

“It is much easier to learn and remember than to investigate and think.”

Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC . 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, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to

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