ACDC News – Issue 14-12

Creative ag science communicator honored

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam recently received the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. At the University of California-Davis she is an extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology. She “works tirelessly and creatively to relay important information about agriculture and food production,” according to the citation report. Her efforts reveal an “outstanding ability to communicate complicated and sometimes controversial scientific issues to the general public.”

You can learn more about Dr. Van Eenennaam’s communications efforts at: .

That site provides links to:

  • “The potential impacts of mandatory labeling for genetically engineered food in the United States,” CAST Issue Paper Number 54 (April 2014). She chaired the task force that developed it.
  • A 30-minute documentary, “Animal Biotechnology,” which she produced.

Also, you can view an award-winning five-minute video she wrote and directed, “Those Were the Days My Friend,” at: . It shows animal agriculture in the United States, then and now.

Thanks to Scott Kilman for alerting us to this recognition.

How blogs boost attention to research papers

“Blogging about a paper causes a large increase in the number of abstract views and downloads in the same month,” David McKenzie and Berk Ozler said recently on the World Bank website. Their report is based on download statistics from Research Papers in Economics.

“These increases are massive compared to the typical abstract views and downloads these papers get,” said the authors.

You can see graphic evidence at:

Three emerging platforms for digital photography about nature

Here are three emerging platforms for photography that Daniel Palmer identified in a chapter of Environmental Conflict and the Media (2013). He suggested that all three can help “turn ordinary citizens into producers and participants of public imagery around the environment, rather than mere consumers.”

  • Photovoice ( ) is being used in community development and contemporary social resource with participants taking photographs in response to particular issues.
  • Camera phones and sharing sites engage citizens with the environment. “Accompanying these developments is so-called ‘participatory sensing,’ which uses embedded devices like the smartphone to capture data about oneself and one’s community…” For example, a mobile phone’s geo-tagging camera helps people work together for targeting the location of invasive plant species.
  • Grassroots mapping . For example, after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, mappers used DIY tools for sending inexpensive digital cameras up in helium balloons and kites. “By setting the camera to automatically take pictures every five seconds, they were able to generate aerial photos…to document the effects of the spill.”

Check with us at if you would like help in gaining access to this case study in Palmer’s book.

New review of BBC rural coverage in the United Kingdom

We are adding to the ACDC collection a 2014 report of an impartial review of coverage of rural areas in the UK. This was the sixth review carried out by the BBC Trust. Here are some of the findings with regard to the television, radio and online services of BBC:

  • On the whole, the BBC coverage of rural affairs includes a wide range of voices and opinions
  • Coverage of controversial stories is generally impartial.
  • There is no evidence of party political bias.
  • In England particularly, rural stories and rural lives could be more fully represented in nationwide coverage.
  • BBC relies disproportionately on a small number of external bodies for input and comment.
  • A tendency to focus on environmental aspects of rural UK should be balanced by the economic and social dimensions.

You can read the summary and gain access to further details at:

Caution about teaching our own environmental values

Teaching environmental values to youth should not mean teaching our own values, says Michigan State University Extension Specialist Nick Baumgart. Instead, it should encourage young people to develop their own environmental values.

“Imparting your own values creates a danger that youth are being ‘brainwashed’.” The author of this article says it is important to ask questions that are intriguing and thought provoking, and to give answers that are non-biased. “In so doing, we as environmental educators give value to what we do and increase environmental literacy to those who will be the future caretakers of our world.”

You can read this article at:

How can you have a profitable community newspaper with a circulation of 312?

Kevin Slimp of Software Review recently asked that question of a publisher whose wife and he own six small newspapers (all profitable) in rural Nebraska.

“Well, people ask me that question a lot,” publisher Rob Dump replied, “and I look at it this way. We’re able to pay our staff and to make a little profit. And it’s good for a community to have its own newspaper.”

Author Slimp thinks these three qualities exist in most successful newspapers these days:

  • Focus on local content, produced locally
  • Support and training for staff
  • A quality sales staff that understands the role and benefits of newspaper advertising

You can read his commentary, “What it takes to be successful,” at:–1399409022–822–pub-aux-stories

The lukewarm editor

On that note, we close with a sample of poetry used sometimes a century ago to fire up country journalists and get them to speak out. This poem in the National Printer-Journalist of 1904 was written by a Wisconsin editor, O. Byron Copper.

Luke Warm, a timid editor,
Once ran a country sheet,
Whose every line and local note
Was couched in tones discreet,
That none might take offense thereof,
Not register a tick,
Although his guff and red-hot air
Made all his readers sick.
Luke smiled on ev’ry face he met,
And wrote all things up right,
And never was he known to mix
In any righteous fight;
When any local renegade
Got in a nasty mess
Luke smoothed it o’er without a word,
And let his readers guess.
And thus poor Luke went blindly on
With plan he thought discreet,
Until his patrons ‘gan to ask;
“What good is Luke’s old sheet?
Without backbone, nor e’en a mind
To stand by home and right;
Nor e’en the nerve to print the truth
In plain old black and white!
We’ll stop our papers all at once,
Our sentiments to show!”
Then each into the sanctum stalked
And plainly told Luke so.
Thus poor L. Warm the lesson learned:
This honeysuckle fun
Of trying every class to please,
Displeases everyone.

International communicator activity approaching

April 27-May 1, 2015

Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Best wishes and good searching

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