ACDC News – Issue 15-08

U.S. weekly newspapers becoming more rural

We have added to the ACDC collection a 2014 article in Newspaper Research Journal indicating that between 1997 and 2009 the community weekly newspaper industry became more rural. This trend occurred as the percentage of weeklies in suburban areas declined. Among other findings:

  • The proportion of weeklies that were group owned increased by about half. In 2009, nearly two-thirds (62.7%) were owned by groups.
  • Average circulation dropped for central city weeklies but grew for suburban and rural weeklies.
  • Fifty-seven percent of rural weeklies had websites, compared with 63% of all 994 weeklies in the study.
  • Four percent of rural weeklies with websites allowed readers to post content, compared with 6.6% of all weeklies with websites.

Five new research and professional reports in JAC

The latest issue of the Journal of Applied Communications (Volume 99, Issue 2) features articles that involve topics such as agricultural blogs, Twitter conversations and online communication tools. You can read them here .

  • “Tackling structure and format – the ‘great unknown’ in professional blogging” by Owen Roberts and Jim Evans
  • “Agriculturists’ personal and business use of online communication tools” by Kelsey Shaw, Courtney Meyers, Erica Irlbeck, David Doerfert, Katie Abrams and Chris Morgan
  • “The impact of local: Exploring availability and location on food buying decisions” by Laura M. Gorham, Joy N. Rumble and Jessica Holt
  • “Exploring ways social media data inform public issues communication: an analysis of Twitter conversations during the 2012-2013 drought in Nebraska” by Adam Wagler and Karen J. Cannon
  • “U.S. agricultural commodity organizations’ use of blogs as a communications tool” by Madeline L. Moore, Courtney Meyers, Erica Irlbeck and Scott Burris

Gap between what’s on the label and what’s in the food: a case example

Researchers at the University of Thessaly in Greece found a considerable gap when they analyzed 348 food products from local markets and super-market chains. Items included dairy products and industrially processed packaged food from meat, poultry and fish, with the items originating in varied countries. They were analyzed in seven groups: milk, food for pets, packaged yellow cheeses, packaged white cheeses, PDO cheeses, processed meats and frozen fish foodstuff. Mislabeled foods were found in all seven groups, with the largest gaps involving foods for pets (54%), frozen fish products (35%) and processed meats (34%).

Researchers concluded, “These alarming findings, combined with those retrieved from the literature, raise significant concern in the monitoring methods employed for supervision worldwide.”

You can read the abstract and options for full-text retrieval of this article, “What do we think we eat?” here . Or check with us at for assistance in gaining full-text access.

Remembering an investigative agricultural journalist

Recently we received news about the passing of Richard Lehnert, former editor of the Michigan Farmer . He was recognized nationally for his direct, hard-hitting, independent agricultural reporting. You can read a review of his career in this Good Fruit Grower article .

Several reports of his investigative work, professional experiences and editorial philosophy are featured in the ACDC collection. For example, if you would like to read his 1991 article in Washington Journalism Review , “Bitter harvest for a farm magazine,” you can do so here .  Within the framework of a case experience, it chronicles his editorial approach and his thoughts about the fragility of editorial independence in agricultural journalism.

Female columnists moving beyond food, home, fashion and entertainment

A 2014 research report in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly suggested that female authors are moving beyond topics traditionally linked to females. Politics was the topic most commonly addressed (34.0%) by women in columns appearing in 10 major U.S. daily newspapers. Other popular topics included business and economics (8.0%), health (5.8%) and sports (4.2%).

Authors observed that female columnists have broadened somewhat beyond stereotypically feminine topics.  They acknowledged that opinion pages traditional cover political issues, a tendency that might help to explain this finding.

You can read the article on the open web here .

Extension educators identify risks of using social media

A recent Journal of Extension article described barriers to use of social media in Extension offices. These top risks emerged from phone interviews and a survey among Extension educators in New York State:

  • Perceived time investment in using social media
  • Control of online presence
  • Professional privacy
  • Personal privacy
  • What happens once information is posted on social media

You can read the research report and recommendations here .

Welcome to new ACDC graduate assistant

We are delighted to welcome Cailín Cullen, who joined the ACDC team on August 25 as part of the Funk Family Library in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Cailín is entering the Graduate School of Library and Information Science here at the University of Illinois.

She brings to the Center a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in English and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Arts degree (with merit) in history from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. During the past two years she has gained library experience through employment in the Phoenix Public Library (Arizona) and volunteer service in the Scottsdale Public Library.

Communicator activities approaching

September 22-24, 2015

“Reach new peaks.” Fall conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Denver, Colorado USA.  Information:

September 24-27, 2015

Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


October 1, 2015

Deadline for submitting full papers for the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists conference to take place in San Antonio, Texas USA, February 7-8, 2016. Information:

October 5-6, 2015

“#BestOf.” Professional development workshop of Cooperative Communicators Association in Destin, Florida USA.  Information:

October 8-12, 2014

“Hot topics.” An IFAJ pre-tour event in Cairns, Australia, hosted by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists. Participants will then fly to New Zealand via Sydney to attend the 2015 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Hamilton. Information:

October 14-18, 2015

“Agribusiness – our life, our story.” Annual Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Hamilton, New Zealand.


November 10-12, 2015

“Managing change innovation and action in an ever shrinking world.” Conference of the Australasia Pacific Extension Network (APEN) in Adelaide, South Australia.


November 11-13, 2015

“Growing our future to harvest our success.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.


Agri-journalism puns

We close this issue of ACDC News with several puns from a collection assembled and shared with us by the late Hal Taylor, a long-time communicator with the U. S. Department of Agriculture:

  • If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.
  • Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.
  • When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.
  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

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