ACDC News – Issue 11-01

Welcome to the first 2011 issue of ACDC News .

We hope you enjoy a New Year of news and updates from the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center based at the University of Illinois. What began 30 years ago as a small teaching file for our agricultural communications faculty members has become a unique international resource and service. What you read in ACDC News only scratches the surface of information flowing daily into this online-searchable collection. It now includes nearly 36,000 documents that involve communications aspects of agriculture, food, feed, fiber, renewable energy, natural resources and rural development in more than 170 countries.

Thanks for your encouragement and support.

The Center has no huge budget. But it has an increasingly important mission and several valuable resources. Among them: a dedicated staff, an exceptional University Library resource and the inspiration of you who use the collection and help strengthen it. We look forward to a new year of identifying and providing information that helps you communicate effectively and grow professionally wherever you work in this broad, dynamic, vital field of interest. And we look forward to being in touch with you.

Persons talking — even more important in an electronic era?

Seventy years ago Paul Lazarsfeld and his colleagues examined the impact of personal influence (communications among people) on voting decisions. They found that the mass media created awareness but exerted far less direct impact than expected, compared with conversations among local residents. These insights launched thousands of studies about the two-step flow of information, including the diffusion and adoption literature of agriculture-related communications.

Does this pattern hold true today, when residents have access to an avalanche of information flowing through the Internet and related electronic media? The answer is “yes,” according to a research report presented at the 2009 meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology in Dublin, Ireland. Researchers analyzed how Americans acquire and use information these days about four topics: food and cooking, health, climate change and political affairs. They observed that greater information access appears to make interpersonal communication even more important. They concluded that gathering information cannot be separated from talking about it. More

Passionate about rural reporting .

An inspiring personal story about the importance, mission, challenges and satisfactions of rural reporting came into the ACDC collection recently via NewsLab. Rhonda McBride of KTUU-TV, Anchorage, Alaska, wrote the account for aspiring young journalists.

This 2007 Journalism Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies explained how she became a reporter by accident. Nearly a decade of cross-cultural broadcasting in one of Alaska’s most remote communities, Bethel, helped her “come to terms with what is most essential in life” and feel grateful for issues of true significance to cover. It’s a challenge to tell the stories of people nobody cares about – and give people a reason to care, she said. She acknowledged that beginning journalists may want to start out as anchors in big markets chasing big stories. However, “…in so many ways, the stories are bigger in small communities.” More

Two approaches to small-community newspapering in dynamic times.

We have added to the ACDC collection two case reports about newspapering in small, rural communities. The reports were presented at the 2009 Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium in Mobile, Alabama.

  • Resurrecting one. Starting The Valley Press after a chain had closed four local weeklies in the Farmington Valley of Connecticut was “less daunting than some might expect,” explained publisher Ed Gunderson. It’s a free weekly that emphasizes sports, school events, local government and activities involving children. More
  • A not-for-profit, cooperative approach. Patricia Berg reported on a Minnesota bi-weekly, Sunfish Gazette , which a tough group of volunteers launched in 2005 after their local paper folded. It was printed and sent free, with pdf images of each issue posted online. A financial base of small donations was not able to sustain it beyond three years. More

Farmer-to-farmer videos conveyed ideas better than conventional workshops.

Stand-alone video shows proved more powerful than conventional one-day community workshops in conveying new ideas about integrated pest management.

This outcome from research in northwestern Bangladesh was reported during September at an international conference in Switzerland. Researchers A. H. Chowdhury, P. Van Mele and M. Hauser observed that video allows better explanation of underlying biological and physical processes and stimulates learning about local innovative pest management practices. Farmer to farmer learning plays an important role and must be strengthened in the future, they concluded. More

Communicator activities approaching

January 2011
Call for papers for a session, “Information systems for indigenous knowledge in agriculture,” at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 13-18, 2011. Information:

January 24, 2011
Deadline for research papers, research proposals, theses and dissertations to be presented at the ACE/NETC annual meeting (Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, and National Extension Technology Conference). It takes place in Denver, Colorado, June 10-14, 2011.
Information: Amanda Ruth-McSwain at

February 5-8, 2011
Meeting of the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) in Corpus Christi, Texas USA.

February 21-22, 2011
“The Perfect Ten.” Southern Region Workshop for members of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Charleston, South Carolina USA. “To enhance skills in writing, photography, layout and design, social media, creativity, media relations and much more – all presented in bite-sized, top-ten lists!”

February 23-25, 2011
Annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Fort Myers, Florida USA.

Headline writer’s mental lapse.

We close this issue of ACDC News with one of those headlines that perhaps any of us might have written during the late Friday afternoon of a hectic week:

“Firm recalls sautéed children”

Here’s what the announcement actually involved. More than 14,000 pounds of sautéed chicken products were recalled because they contained an undeclared allergen, whey. Thanks to Douglas Powell of Food Safety Network for calling our attention to it. Read it here .

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

Get in touch with us when you see interesting items in the ACDC collection and can’t gain full-text access through information in the citation, or through online searching. We will help you gain access. This is a document center and service, not merely an online citation database.