ACDC News – Issue 15-02

Six steps for maintaining agricultural journalism standards

Kevin Smith, chairman of the National Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, offered six solutions for agricultural journalists when he spoke at an ethics session of the 2014 Agricultural Media Summit:

  • Make sure the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Code of Ethics is distributed extensively in the agriculture community.
  • Make sure journalists understand it and read it. … Talk about it. …Make it a living document that drives discussions. … The worst way to use a code is after the fact.
  • Share it with advertisers, their marketing departments, and PR people. PR people have codes of ethics as well.  Show it to the publisher, ad director, study it. Discuss it.
  • Look at what other journalism groups are saying.  Leverage their positions.
  • Produce real life case studies.  Help one another out by sharing cases and how they were resolved. Create a repository for these cases, so others can access.  Don’t hide names, be honest.
  • Resist temptations from news peddlers at every turn. Start with AAEA convention.  Make no promises, keep relationships professional. Explain roles of advertising and editorial often to advertisers and the public.

You can read the AAEA Code of Ethic for members here.

You can read AAEA Ethics Case Studies and the AAEA Affiliate Code of Ethics here.

“Rethinking the United Nations for the networked world”

That is the title of a report about new approaches being planned for the United Nations, which observes its 70 th anniversary in 2015.  These approaches will change critical aspects of how the UN responds to complex global challenges to peace, prosperity, and sustainable development.

Effective communications is prominent among these driving forces for change:

  • An increasingly vast array of transnational networks consisting of non-governmental organizations, foundations, academics, corporations and private citizens.
  • A global communications platform that radically drops transaction and collaboration costs, enabling non-state actors to self-organize and cooperate to address global problems.

You can read the 47-page report here .

German consumers are less aware of nanotechnology – and media coverage of it is falling

A comparison by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment revealed that consumers became generally less aware of the term nanotechnology during the five-year period, 2008-2012. This trend occurred as the range of potential uses for nanotechnology in foods expanded rapidly.

“The number of articles in the German media mentioning nanotech has fallen steadily since 2007, however, from an average of 806 articles a year from 2000-2007 to just 496 in 2012.”

You can read this news report here .

The Viking in the Wheat Field – adventure in “big picture” agri-reporting

Susan Dworkin’s skill in gathering complex agri-science information and revealing it understandably to non-scientists shines brightly in this book we added recently to the ACDC collection.

It features Bent Skovmand, a Danish scientist who headed the wheat gene bank of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) from 1988-2003. He preserved, multiplied and categorized one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of wheat genetic resources. After he left CIMMYT he became director of the Nordic Gene Bank, now called Nordgen, which manages the so-called Doomsday Vault where millions of essential crop seeds have been deposited in case of catastrophe.

Skovmand understood that the struggle to preserve the world’s harvest had to have a public. “The power to communicate the impact of plant genetic resources activities is essential,” he insisted.

Reference: Susan Dworkin (2009) The Viking in the Wheat Field . New York: Walker & Company.

You can read a sample review of it here .

You can find a copy at a library near you via WorldCat .

New professional development fund for agricultural journalists and communicators in Canada

Congratulations to the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) for establishing a fund to support professional development of agricultural journalists and communicators in the organization. Applications for the first (2015) awards were due by December 31. Recipients will use awards to strengthen their attributes, abilities and skills as agricultural journalists/communicators. They will do so through research, educational programs, conferences, workshops, exchanges and other activities.

We in ACDC look forward to serving this effort by helping applicants identify topics of interest and supporting research components of projects selected.

Words to banish during 2015

Nearly one-half of the words being called for banishment during 2015 may hold special interest for those involved in food, reporting, and communications.  They are in the 2015 List of Banished Words, assembled at Lake Superior State University in Michigan through feedback from word watchers.  This annual list features words and phrases that “should be banished from the Queen’s English for mis-use, over-use and general uselessness.” Among the words to be banished during 2015:






You can review the complete list and comments from contributors here .

Communicator activities approaching

April 14-17, 2015
“Growing Greatness,” Agri-Marketing Conference, National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), in Kansas City, Missouri.
April 26-28, 2015
Annual meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) in Washington, D.C.  Information:
April 27-May 1, 2015
Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (IAIEE) in Wageningen, The Netherlands.
April 27-29, 2015
“Washington Watch” of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Washington, D. C. Information:

What it takes to make change in a society

We close this issue of ACDC News with an insight expressed by Solange Lusiku Nsimine, editor and publisher of Le Souverain newspaper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She received the 2014 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

“At the top it takes willpower, [but] at the base it takes courage.”

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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