ACDC News – Issue 14-07

Before bloggers there were ploggers (print loggers)

Communications researcher Beth Garfrerick made that point in a recent symposium about community media. Who were these ploggers? They were (and are) the community journalism correspondents who wrote (and write) about issues that mirror the lives of average folk.

“Throughout the twentieth century, these correspondents were mostly farm wives who wrote about their communities and recorded everyday happenings. They wrote about births, marriages, deaths, social events, such as bridal showers and church receptions, out-of-town visitors, and travel. These country correspondents played an important role in boosting the morale of readers and the bottom line of weekly publishers.”

You can read this insightful historical review that connects with today’s new interactive media:

New directions in agricultural communication

That is the title of an informative 78-page report of an international research effort by communicators Claudia and Hans-Heinrich Berghorn. They conducted it on behalf of the regional German Farmers’ Union, Westfaelisch-Lippischer Landwirtschaftberband, based in Muenster. Their goal was to identify benchmarks and best practice examples to help develop new communication strategies for German farmers. Their research took them to Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and the U. S., including the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center here at the University of Illinois.

They found that the scope of the challenges facing agricultural communication is even bigger than expected, calling for best practices that provide answers to the question of what agriculture contributes to society beyond providing food. They identified seven strategies for new directions in agricultural communication and five topics for future discussions.

The 2013 report was published in German, with an executive summary in English. You can reach Hans-Heinrich at for details. Or check with us at .

How to innovate in the food industry: ignore competition

“Competition doesn’t exist, really. It’s boring, and it’s very 80s,” a chef told those attending Food Vision 2014 in Cannes. Chocolate chef Dominique Persoone said that collaboration is the most powerful innovation trick in the book.

“Now you have to share with your friends and believe in your own project and your own ideas.”

You can see a summary of his remarks, as well as a five-minute video interview with him, at:

Photographer focusing on daily lives of female farmers

Marji Guyler-Alaniz visits women as they farm, taking photos of their daily lives. She then tells their stories through the images and a blog, This project came to our attention through an article during February by Sarah Baker Hansen in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper.

You can see the article and seven featured photos at:

“Large positive impact” from investment in agricultural extension

Rural families who took part in the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) program in Uganda during 2004-2007 gained benefits well beyond the program investment. That result was reported in a 2011 article we have added to the ACDC collection from the journal, Agricultural Economics .

  • Overall participation was associated with an average increase of 32-63 percent in gross agricultural revenue per adult equivalent.
  • Direct participation was associated with an average increase of 37-95 percent; indirect participation with an average increase of 27-55 percent.
  • The internal rate of return on expenditures for the program during the period was estimated at 8-49 percent.

NAADS is an innovative public-private extension service, begun in 2001. Authors note that the program generates a range of benefits to participants, beyond economic returns.

A summary of the article is available at:;jsessionid=00C00C9F80E07C6716FF8A6F5CF7BF90.f04t02

For help in gaining access to the article, check with us at .

Update on farm and rural broadband

The 2013 edition of “Rural broadband at a glance” from the U. S. Department of Agriculture shows that rural households are still less likely to subscribe to the Internet than are urban households. By 2010, only 62 percent of U. S. rural households and farms had home subscriptions to the Internet, compared with 73 percent of urban households.

“Broadband internet connections…are not available as often, nor used as readily by rural households as by urban households,” according to the report. Forty-two percent of online rural households without broadband report that broadband service is not available to them. Twenty-seven percent indicate that it is “too expensive” and 26 percent said “not needed, not interested.”

You can read the report at:

Welcome to a new ACDC associate

We are delighted to welcome Kelsey Berryhill as new graduate assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Kelsey is a candidate for the Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science. She was an honors graduate in anthropology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and pursued minors in museum studies and global studies during her undergraduate program.

Kelsey brings to the Center a variety of professional experience and skills. For example, she has worked with special collections at the Davenport (Iowa) Public Library, with curation at the John A. Logan Museum (Murphysboro, Illinois) and with digital archiving at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology here at the University of Illinois. You can reach her at .

Photo of Kelsey Berryhill

Preserving history about rural-urban communications

You may be aware that the Agriculture Council of America Foundation recently assumed the assets and selected programs of the National Farm-City Council. In related news, we are delighted to report that the 60-year history of the National Farm-City Council has an enduring home. Those historical materials, dating from the founding in 1955, are being processed into the University of Illinois Archives after arriving recently.

Thanks to Council representatives Hugh Whaley, Gene Hemphill and Holly Fritz for collaborating with Archives and ACDC personnel in making the preservation possible. These materials represent an important, pioneering initiative in promoting rural-urban understanding in the United States. During the years ahead, they will be available as resources for research, teaching, and ideas from a wealth of knowledge about ways to do so.

Get in touch with us at if you would like more information about these materials.

Communicator activities approaching

  • July 26-30, 2014
    “Rev it up!” Agricultural Media Summit, joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Agri-Council of American Business Media in Indianapolis, Indiana. Also features the annual meeting of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information:
  • September 4-8, 2014
    “Innovations from a small island.” Annual IFAJ Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Aberdeenshire Angus, Banffshire and Moray, Scotland. Information:

Simple formula for gathering news

We close this issue of ACDC News with a piece of timeless advice from J. Milam, a country newspaper editor and publisher. It was cited in a 1934 article we reviewed recently in The North American Review :

“Keep listening, and never do more than half the talking.”

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