ACDC News – Issue 14-08

Social media – a challenge for the agri-food industry

That is the title of a poster presented by three researchers at an international agricultural economics conference during May 2014. M. Kayser, R. Kröger, and L. Theuvsen noted that “Social media is a major challenge for a lot of companies.”

Among the reasons cited:

  • The participatory nature of social media requires a certain loss of control; the traditional “gatekeeper” power is reduced.
  • In times of high criticism of the agribusiness industry, a social media-oriented strategy is inevitable, and such times require intensive dialogue with the public.
  • The possibility to influence opinions is more difficult compared to sender-centric communication.
  • High transparency and rapid, open communication become risk factors.

You can see the poster at:

Open data – helping all?

Michael Gurstein explored that question in a First Monday article that featured not only the benefits of open data, but also the “possible impact on the poor and marginalized.” He pointed to those at risk, such as indigenous peoples, non-English speakers, the very poor, and those living in areas with poor connectivity. Two examples involved upper-income persons and corporations using digitized land records to take ownership of land from poor rural residents in Canada and India.

He suggested an “effective use” approach to open data, ensuring that “opportunities and resources for translating this open data into useful outcomes would be available (and adapted) for the widest possible range of users.”

You can read the article at:

Violence and harassment facing women in the news media

An international survey during 2013 revealed that nearly two-thirds (65%) of 921 respondents had experienced acts of intimidation, threats, and abuse in their work. This survey was conducted jointly by the International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Most respondents were journalists/reporters (82%). Others were editors, producers, photographers, presenters, media support workers, and camera/sound workers. Rural aspects were not identified.

What kinds of acts did they face?

  • More than one-fifth said they had experienced physical violence (e.g., pushing, shoving, assault), mostly by strangers, politicians, soldiers, and interviewees.
  • 14% said they had experienced sexual violence in their work.
  • Nearly half reported being touched in a sexual manner against their will.
  • About half of the acts of sexual violence involved co-workers, bosses or supervisors.
  • One-fifth said they had experienced digital/online account surveillance, account hacking, phone tapping, or website hacking.

You can read an executive summary of this survey at:

New reporting text from ag journ faculty members

Douglas Starr and Deborah Dunsford, respected agricultural journalism and communications faculty members at Texas A&M University, are authors of a new book: Working the story: A guide to reporting and news writing for journalists and public relations professionals .

They have written it as both a teaching and reference book — for beginners and seasoned professionals. The concise, readable 32 chapters range broadly across topics such as writing for various media, covering various subjects and types of events, freelancing, working with the media, writing speeches, planning conferences, providing briefings, handling public relations crises, and finding a job.

Professor Emeritus Starr has had three careers: 20 years as an award-winning reporter, 7 years as a public relations speech ghostwriter, and 39 years as a teacher of journalism and public relations. Senior Lecturer Dunsford has more than 20 years of experience in public relations, media writing, and account service.

You can learn more about it from the publisher:

A prolonged courtship – decline and bright future for country towns

We recently added to the ACDC collection an article from Rural Society about newspaper coverage of decline in Australian country towns since World War II. Author Louise Prowse analyzed five local newspapers serving country towns in New South Wales from 1945 to 2006.

“By encouraging nostalgia for the past and presenting symptoms of decline as aesthetically pleasing, country towns, despite their lingering yearning for progress, settled down to sentimentally embrace decline,” she concluded.

You can read the introduction to this journal article without charge at: . Please check with us at for further help in gaining access.

Two-thirds of small-town residents in the U.S. read community newspapers

That finding came from a 2013 Community Newspaper Readership Study conducted by The Reynolds Journalism Institute. 67% of 508 people interviewed read a community newspaper at least once a week. Among other findings:

  • Local newspapers continue to be the primary source of information about communities in small towns and cities. 42% selected “newspaper” and “newspaper website” as their primary source of community information.
  • The “pass-along” rate was 2.48 friends, colleagues, co-workers or those in the person’s household.
  • 82% “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that they would rather look through newspaper ads than view them on the Internet.
  • The Internet has become more influential than ever before in people’s seeking information about automobile purchasing, television/electronics shopping, and employment opportunities.

You can read further information about results at:–1391441142–739–resources

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).
September 3-7, 2014
“Risk and resilience.” Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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.
October 2-5, 2014
“Dig deep.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation on Prince Edward Island. Information:

November 12-14, 2014
“From our roots our future grows,” celebrating 70 years of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Communicating (and living) on the edge

With our minds on the urgency of communicating effectively in support of agricultural and rural development, we close this issue of ACDC News with a Spanish proverb:
“Lo que separa la civilización de la anarquía son solo siete comidas.”
“Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart.”

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