ACDC News – Issue 12-19

Specialized journalists – “increasingly rare and precious”

“There are generalists galore,” explained Meredith Artley, vice-president and managing editor of CNN Digital, writing recently in the Nieman Journalism Lab. “A broad curiosity about the world is a good prerequisite for landing a job in journalism, but the resumes that show specialized interest and experience in a beat or topic are increasingly rare and precious.”

This comes as good news for journalists who know how to cover agriculture, as well as those who can cover health, foreign affairs, science, education, religion and other specialized areas.

You can read Artley’s other comments about “what we look for when we hire young journalists” at:

Tapping rural veterinary information on the open Web.

A recent article in the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy traces how practicing rural veterinarians have gained access to a breadth of literature found only in veterinary medical libraries until a few years ago. Author Bob L. Larson of Kansas State University describes how to gather veterinary information from PubMed, AGRICOLA, CABI and other online sources.

You can read the journal article at:

Impact of public reporting about health inspections.

Support for public reporting of health-related inspections appeared in a 2012 PLoS Medicine article we are adding to the ACDC collection. An eight-year study in Ontario, Canada, revealed that mandatory public reporting of inspection results by hospitals was associated with a reduction of nearly 27 percent in hospital rates of Clostridium difficile infection. Authors suggested that public reporting may have “elevated this infection to greater prominence on hospital quality improvement agendas.”

This study was believed to be the first population-based, rigorous evaluation of a public reporting system for hospital-acquired infection using an independent data source. We have seen no similar studies involving impacts of public reporting about restaurant inspections and food-related disease outbreaks. Please send, or alert us to, reports you may have seen about this important aspect of communications in the food sector of agriculture. They can reach us at: .

You can access the journal article at:


Examining frankenwords

We have heard them. We have used them. Frankenstorm. Frankenweenie. Frankenstrut. And, of course, “perhaps the most serious and widely used frankenword…is surely frankenfood.”

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education , Geoffrey Pullum examined the unusual nature of what he described as frankenwords. “They do not connote the more general property of being made by grafting the etymologically genuine parts with independent meanings,” he explained, “but by bolting together pieces ripped from living words ignoring the morphological joints.”

You can read his article at:

How to measure superstition in rural settings.

We are adding to the ACDC collection a Journal of Social Sciences article that describes a scale to measure superstition in a rural setting. Researchers used it among maize farmers in four villages of Bangladesh. They noted the discriminatory power and reliability of the scale and concluded it might be used in other countries whose social systems and level of development are comparable.

You can read the article at:

A people-centered look at African seed enterprises

Thanks to Dr. Paul Van Mele of Agro-Insight (Ghent, Belgium) for informing us that a 2011 book, African Seed Enterprises: Sowing the Seeds of Food Security , recently came into the public domain. He explains that the book provides examples of successful seed enterprises in nine African countries.

Communication is a dimension often overlooked in assessing small and medium-sized seed enterprises, he explains. “The book describes the diversity of communication strategies used, which is a key indicator reflecting the creativity of African entrepreneurs to engage with their clients.” Knowledge about seed, contacts, cooperation and professional organizations (including farmer groups) are among those communication strategies cited for creating new seed enterprises and sustaining them.

You can download all chapters of the book at:

His career as agricultural journalist “could have been less.”

Indeed. You can learn more about Alfred van Dijk—a legendary source of understatement—in a new professional development feature on the website of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). A widely acclaimed and respected agricultural journalist in The Netherlands, Albert passed away this year at the age of 79. He served as chairman of the Dutch Association of Agriculture and Horticulture Journalism (NVLJ) from 1978 to 1992.

You can learn some keys to his agricultural writing skills, as well as highlights of his remarkable career, by visiting . The feature about him is posted on the IFAJ home page. Special thanks to authors Aad Vernooij and Ton Schönwetter, as well as Hans Siemes for translation services.

Communicator activities approaching

  • January 18, 2013
    Deadline for proposals for professional development sessions to be presented at the 2013 ACE/NETC conference in Indianapolis, Indiana USA, June 11-14, 2013. This joint international conference involves the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) and the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC). See conference information at: For proposal information:
  • January 21, 2013
    Deadline for research papers to be considered for presentation at the 2013 ACE/NETC conference. These will be presented during a session of the ACE Research Special Interest Group. For information, contact Prof. Karen Cannon at .
  • April 17-19, 2013
    “Forging New Frontiers 2013.” Annual Agri-Marketing Conference sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Kansas City, Missouri USA. Information:

Just following directions.

We close this issue of ACDC News with a final selection from The Entomologists’ Joke Book , published in 1937.

A Philadelphia man called up the bird store the other day and said, “Have 30,000 cockroaches sent up to me at once.”

“What in heaven’s name do you want with 30,000 cockroaches?”

“Well,” replied the householder, “I am moving today and my lease says I must leave the premises here in exactly the same condition in which I found them.”

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