ACDC News – Issue 15-10

“Journalism-PR relations revisited”

A 2014 article of that title in Public Relations Review offered good news, bad news and insights into tomorrow’s news. Findings were based on interviews conducted with senior editors, journalists and PR practitioners with 20 or more years of experience across multiple industries and “rounds” in the UK, US and Australia. Among the findings reported by researcher Jim Macnamara:

  • “Senior practitioners in both PR and journalism support independent media and reject notions of symbiosis between journalism and PR, instead arguing that, even though they interact, the fields of practice operate independently of each other in many cases and have distinctly different roles, which should not be blurred or converged.”
  • “However, despite good intentions, a number of factors point to a worsening lack of transparency and increasing convergence of journalism and PR.” As examples, he cited organizational use of social media, new forms of sponsored media content and online corporate publishing.
  • Macnamara expressed urgent need for education of journalists about PR, for reinvigorated focus on ethical PR education and for review of codes of ethics and codes of practice to keep pace with emergent media practices and formats.

You can read this article on the open web here , via

Easing public concern about animal welfare

Findings of recent two-stage research by M. Metzger suggested a possible approach to easing public concern in the U.S. about animal welfare.

  • In Stage 1, an online survey revealed that respondents had little knowledge of federal regulations — Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Animal Welfare Regulations (AWR) — that govern animal care for research and other purposes.
  • Data from Stage 2 revealed that exposure to elements of the AWA and AWR influenced participants’ attitudes toward the use of animals in research.

While this project emphasized use of animals in research, the findings may extend more broadly to communicating about care of livestock and companion animals.

You can read the abstract for this article, “Knowledge of the animal welfare act and animal welfare regulations,” at:

You can see provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations at:

Communication – key to farm science

“The idea that a plant scientist can somehow have a direct impact on a farmer is ludicrous,” an agricultural research director in the United Kingdom suggested at a recent meeting of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists.  Bill Clark, commercial technical director of the National Institute of Agricultural Biology (NIAB), emphasized that communicators have a key role explaining the benefits science brings to agriculture

Traditionally, he explained, people tended to illustrate knowledge transfer in a linear fashion – with knowledge flowing from the laboratory to the farm.  But it does not happen that way, he reported.  “It’s much more convoluted and complicated than that and works in both directions.

You can read more here in a news report about his remarks.

Need to move beyond participation and empowerment of women

A recent review of literature revealed gaps and needs for integrating strategies of gender equality and social equity into communication interventions that involve aquatic agricultural systems. For example, the literature revealed that:

  • Few communication interventions moved beyond women’s participation and empowerment to address gender relations or social inclusion for poor and marginalized men and women.
  • Few articles provided more than limited information on the specific communication components used or their gender equality and social equity focus.
  • Few articles went beyond providing training and gender awareness to examine the effects of these specific components on productivity, livelihoods, social connectedness and household dynamics.

In short, authors called for moving beyond the singular focus on empowerment to use of multi-level approaches to communication that address inequality, social inclusion and power.

You can read “Communication interventions for gender equality and social equity” here .

Where community editors see their roles these days

“Community editors look beyond watchdog role,” researchers Leo W. Jeffres and Anup Kumar observed in the title of their recent article in Newspaper Research Journal .

A survey among community newspaper editors and publishers in the U.S. showed they continue to believe that the traditional functions assigned to them over the years are important. However, they are thinking about the watchdog role along three dimensions:

  • Serving as the public’s watchdog
  • Stimulating civic engagement and developing a sense of community
  • Acting as coordinating and socializing agents

Authors concluded that the combination of roles adds to editors’ confidence about sound economic footings, success against competitors and the future of their papers.

New apprenticeship created in memory of farming editor

The Press and Journal of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, recently announced creation of a new Joe Watson Memorial Apprenticeship. This opportunity is in memory of the late farming editor Joe Watson who was highly respected, nationally and internationally.

The two-year apprenticeship will provide journalism, advertising and sales training at the Press and Journal and a sister paper, the Evening Express . You can read a report of the apprenticeship here .

Communicator activity approaching

January 29, 2016

Deadline for research papers to be presented at the annual conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE), in Memphis, Tennessee during June. Papers are invited from faculty members and/or graduate students. Information: Jill Rucker at

A perspective on surviving and thriving

We close this issue of ACDC News with a tribal proverb that Ellen Maurer, University of Wisconsin, learned in Africa. She reported it in 1996 when she was honored with the Professional Award from the international association, Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE).

“Every morning in the savannas of Africa, a gazelle wakes and knows it has to run faster than the fastest cheetah. Every morning in Africa a cheetah awakes and knows that it has to run faster than the slowest gazelle. The moral of the story is that it does not matter if you are a cheetah or gazelle – when you wake up in Africa, you have to start running.”

We think the moral may apply well beyond Africa.

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