ACDC News – Issue 01-08

Twelve research papers highlighted.

Members of the Communications Section heard 12 research presentations at the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, during January. Titles included:

  • “The Cooperative e-Xtension: New Media, New Strategies”
  • “The View from the Front: County Agent Evaluations of Extension Publications”
  • “Measuring and Evaluating Levels of Public Awareness”
  • “Peanuts and Pandas: Marketing Georgia Agriculture to Urban Audiences”
  • “Extension Educators’ Assessment of Technology Programs, Uses, and Training in Oklahoma”
  • “Building and Supporting Online Learning Environments Through Web Course Tools: It is Whippy, But Does It Work?”
  • “A Content Analysis of Oklahoma’s Two Largest Newspapers’ 1998 Coverage of Oklahoma Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations”
  • “Remarketing the Drought to Georgians”
  • “What’s With the Dog? Using Student Focus Groups to Guide Recruitment Efforts”
  • “Start Spreading the News: a Case Study on Marketing ‘Millie’ and Cloning Research”
  • “Level of Use of Extension Agricultural Programming in the Broadcast Media by Adults in Mississippi”
  • “It’s Now a Laughing Matter: the Texas Agricultural Extension Service Makes Serious Business out of Humorous Campaigns”

Reference: These papers are posted at as proceedings of the 2001 meeting. They are also entered into the ACDC collection and can be identified through title searches (above).

A familiar dilemma. 

The presentations cited above reveal some pesky and perennial dilemmas that educational (and other) communicators face. An example:

From one presenter: “Take time to do focus groups.”
From another: No audience research, pre-testing or post-testing was possible for the campaign because of “extremely short turnaround time – only a month – to produce and distribute the huge quantity of materials to participating counties and cities.”

This tight-timing dilemma

Reminds us of counsel that Bryant Kearl, University of Wisconsin, offered in 1987 to U.S. communicators about how they can work effectively in other economies and cultures:

“Insist on being given the time to learn.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Necessary elements for development in agriculture”) or an author search (Kearl) for the full citation.

Issues to address in GMO communicating?

Six “myths” about genetically modified plants are identified in a recent issue of Farm Industry News. Environmental attorney Stanley Abramson described and refuted them:

  • “Genetically modified plants are not regulated.”
  • “No data exist to support genetically modified products.”
  • “The public does not have a role to play.”
  • “Benefits of biotechnology do not exist.”
  • “There is actual harm to health and the environment.”
  • “No biotech products are labeled.”

Reference: Use a title search (“6 myths”) or author search (McMahon) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

It’s about trust.

Following is a recent observation by Lori B. Andrews of the Illinois Institute of Technology about the debate involving agricultural biotechnology:

“The debate is not only or primarily about science at all. It’s about trust.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Biotech firms need to address emotional issues”) or author search (Andrews) for the full citation.

The Internet: changing science journalismnot always for the better.

We recently added a 1999 document that addresses this topic in the BioMedNet Magazine, HMS Beagle. “Thank goodness for the Internet,” said author David Whitehouse as he described ways in which it helps provide faster, easier science coverage. However, he expressed concern that “the concentration of press releases in a few Web sites has resulted in less diversity among journalists. It has made journals and public relations offices more powerful. Look at the newspapers, all the newspapers, and you will see that (in the U.K., at least) they have over 90 percent of their stories in common.”

Reference: Use a title search (“How the Internet is changing science journalism”) or author search (Whitehouse) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

“Where does live, face-to-face communication fit into all this?”

Warren Clark, president of Agricultural Relations Council, raised this thought question – and others – in a recent issue of ARCLight Newsletter. Given new and emerging technologies, such as two-way, high-speed Internet access, he asked questions such as:

  • What opportunities does this “bigger 2-way pipe” present?
  • Where do “relationships” fit into all this technology?
  • Is there a way they can be enhanced?
  • Or will farmers feel more than ever like a deer on the opening day of hunting season; like there’s no place to hide?
  • Or, if they embrace the technology, how will it be like trying to drink from a fire hydrant?

Reference: Use a title search (“From the president”) or author search (Clark) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

“What are you doing in your colleges to encourage the teaching of farm journalism?”

That was one of the early questions put to members of the Association of Agricultural College Editors (ACE) after they organized nearly 90 years ago. The question came from Charles Dillon, managing editor of Capper Farmer Publications, when he spoke at the 1916 annual meeting (proceedings of which came into the ACDC collection recently).

He argued that lack of trained professionals in this work “is the most distressing thing we have to encounter.There is no limit to what they may be able to do.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Aspects of farm journalism”) or author search (Dillon) for the full citation.

Recognized demand for more writing.

A year later (1917), Nelson A. Crawford of Kansas State Agricultural College echoed this theme: “The development of agricultural journalism is before us; it is bound to come. It is my firm conviction that work in agricultural journalism should be offered in every agricultural college. If no work is now offered in an institution, there is an opportunity for the editor to start it.” He observed that “courses in agricultural journalism are relatively new, growing out of the recognized demand for more writing on the developing sciences of agriculture.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The relation of courses in agricultural journalism”) or author search (Crawford) for the full citations.

Some recent inquiries.

Here are several of the topics about which ACDC users have inquired during recent weeks:

  • Usage and impact of the Internet among farmers
  • Information sources used by Extension educators
  • Collaboration between local Extension offices and public libraries
  • Communications aspects of precision farming
  • How people in rural communities get information about local events

We are pleased to help you locate information for which you may be looking – and to provide documents that may not be available to you locally.

Professional activities approaching:

May 23, 2001
“Publication design training class” at Phoenix, Arizona. Sponsored by the Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association for cooperative communicators and others. Information:

June 21-23, 2001
Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) joint conferences at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida.

June 23-26, 2001
Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) joint conferences at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida.

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, questions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents that we might add to this collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, University of Illinois, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form ( Thank you.

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