ACDC News – Issue 00-09

“Don’t waste your time at trade shows” 

Is the title of a recent article in CCA News, the newsletter of Cooperative Communicators Association. Author Pamela Karg of Karg Communications, Baraboo, Wisconsin, offers seven tips for effective participation in trade shows.

Reference: Use title search (above) for full citation.

A practical guide to development communication has been published by the Department for International Development, the UK government aid agency.

A. Burke, Communications and development: a practical guide. 1999

This guide explores the importance of communications in development and presents guidelines for implementing development communications programs. It features the use of various media, such as drama, television, radio, Internet, e-mail, public relations and networks.

Reference: Use title or author search for detailed citation. For online view of the full text, search on “communication” in the Eldis website:

Public relations: battleground or meeting ground?

Use of the Internet in public issues such as food safety is sparking anew some active debate about the philosophy of public relations. Is it a “win-lose” war of minds as interest groups fight to prevail over each other? Is it a “win-win” process of shared insight and understanding?

You can see within the ACDC collection some recent documents that reflect this debate. Conduct a “subject” search online, using terms such as “communication theory,” “biotechnology” and “public relations.”

Scientists as communicators.

Following are the titles of several documents that have been added recently to the ACDC collection about the communications challenges that face agricultural scientists these days, and their skills in handling them:

  • “Mistrust ‘threatens future of science’”
  • “Scientists deserve public attention, but exalt them at your peril”
  • “Consumer power heralds hard times for researchers”
  • “Science must speak”
  • “The role of geneticists in the public debate over genetically modified organisms”
  • “Beware the appliance of science”

Stealing agricultural information.

“This was brought home to me one day when I came upon a website, where, to my horror, I saw our Agri Marketing Services Guide.” Lynn Henderson, president of Doane Agricultural Services Corporation, reported this experience last October to the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property. “The hard work of our staff, from establishing relationships with firms so they agree to participate in the sharing of data to the setting up of distribution networks, was bypassed by this fellow, who was looking to make advertising revenue off of our labors.” On behalf of the Agricultural Publishers Association, Henderson urged legislation to protect databases.

Reference: Search on title (“Testimony of the Agricultural Publishers Association before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property”) for full citation. Text is posted on

Farm broadcaster interviewed on CBS “60 Minutes” – for speaking out.

Illinois farm broadcaster Rod Thorson’s story about pressure from a farm organization appears in “Amber waves of gain,” a report by Vicki Monks. The report charged Farm Bureau with abusing its farmer-based membership in order to profit in various agribusiness ventures, at the expense of family farmers and the environment. The “60 Minutes” crew explored this story, which included Thorson’s experience of being fired by his station because of complaints from the Farm Bureau about his stance on the controversial issue of large-scale livestock operations. He favored regulating such facilities. “If the large farms were allowed to continue, there wouldn’t be a market left for the small, family farms.”

Reference: Use title search (“Illinois broadcaster receives national spotlight on CBS”) for the full citation of one of the news accounts.

Moving beyond “shouting match” approaches to GMO dialogue.

The format of a recent international conference illustrates a constructive communications approach that seems rare in current debates about biotechnology. Sixty participants from a diverse group of US and European firms, agencies and organizations met for two days last October to search for solutions in the GMO debate. Here’s how the format operated:

  • Participants were pre-assigned to discussion groups so as to assure varied perspectives within each group.
  • Groups followed a given set of questions to guide discussion. Questions were designed to focus the debate and challenge participants to identify the important themes and dilemmas encountered within each issue.
  • Responses from each discussion group fed into a group summary.
  • This process helped participants identify points of agreement and disagreement. It also produced a prioritized list of potential future actions or activities needed to move toward resolution of the controversy.

Reference: Use a title search (“Search for solutions in the EU-US GMO debate”) or author search (Hill or Battle) for full citation. Contact Lowell Hill at about a copy of the proceedings.

“Soft” reporting about the GMO issue?

An observer in Australia writes, “From a rural media perspective….I’ve been finding the reporting extraordinarily soft. The mainstream media in Australia are asking a few tough questions (while struggling with the detail and complexity of the issue), yet the rural media are only asking very easy questions of GMO proponents.”

Do you know of research being conducted about this matter? If so, please let us know.

Professional meetings approaching.

Here are the approaching meetings of several U.S. professional agricultural communicator organizations:

May 21-24, 2000
“Fast chips and hot salsa.” National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) in College Station, Texas.

June 1-4, 2000
West Region meeting of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Information: Don Wick at

June 24-27, 2000
Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) Institute in Whitefish, Montana.

June 28-July 2, 2000
South Region Meeting of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters at Sandestin Resort, Destin, Florida.
Information: Lee McCoy at 334/741-9672.

July 23-26, 2000
U.S. Agricultural Communicators Congress (USACC) in Washington, D.C. Involves professionals from Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE), American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB), Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT).

Best regards and good searching.

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

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