ACDC News – Issue 01-20

Agricultural journalists share thoughts following September 11.

Members of the North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) organization are using their web site to share thoughts following the terrorist activities of September 11. The collection begins with a special posting by NAAJ President Laura Rance of Canada.


Remarkable materials contributed by the Donald S. Watson family.

Users of ACDC and the University of Illinois Library will benefit greatly from the efforts of a U.S. agricultural journalist who had a special sense of history. The family of Donald S. Watson recently contributed a remarkable research collection that includes:

  • Samples (including some bound volumes) of more than 65 farm journals, dating back as early as 1823.
  • Dozens of books, including some notable histories of various cattle breeds. These books were published as early as 1853. Most are new to the UI Library.
  • Detailed information about more than 9,600 farm periodicals published in the U.S. during the past 200 years.

A unique view of agricultural journalism.

Donald Watson’s career began at one of the nation’s pioneer farm periodicals, the New England Homestead published at Springfield, Massachusetts. After completing undergraduate studies in agricultural journalism at Iowa State University in 1949, he joined New England Homestead as associate editor. In 1956 he became editor/publisher, a position that he held until late 1963. He served as president of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association during 1959. His career also included experience in agricultural advertising, public relations and organization management. He died in 1996 at the age of 74.

How (and why) did he collect all of that information about farm periodicals? 

He wanted to update the widely used Stuntz List of Agricultural Periodicals of the United States and Canada Published During the Century July 1810 to July 1910. So he carefully gathered details about all U.S. farm periodicals that he could identify, with emphasis on the period between 1910 and 1993. Communication researchers at Iowa State University now have these research materials with the intent to create (in database) the kind of useful, comprehensive bibliography that Donald Watson envisioned. We are pleased to help preserve and extend his effort, through the generosity of his family.

Three lessons on impacts of telecommunications for rural areas.

Editors of the recent book, Having all the right connections, say they identified several lessons from their research involving differential impacts of telecommunications for rural areas. They noted:

  • Unequal access to technological infrastructure, hardware and software to deliver or access needed services.
  • Patterns of negative as well as positive, intended as well as unintended, consequences of technologies when they can be accessed.
  • Dominance of vertical influences driving local telecommunications development, adoption and use.

Reference: Use a title search (above) or author search (Abbott) for the full citation.

How will the poor get access to new information technologies?

The International Food Policy Research Institute examined this question in a September 2000 review entitled, “Bridging the Digital Divide.” The report cites a recent World Bank Study indicating that “The digital divide is not only enormous – dwarfing even the per capita income gap ratio between high- and low-income countries – but it is increasing.” The report also includes examples of the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for rural development in India, Jamaica, Bangladesh and other nations. It closes with a summary of some ways to overcome barriers to universal access.

Reference: Use a title search (above) or author search (Mohan) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Biases of extension communication.

A 1984 doctoral dissertation that we identified recently for the ACDC collection echoes the lessons mentioned above. In a development setting, Srinivas R. Melkote analyzed extension messages and attitudes of extension workers. The messages and attitudes “exhibited pro-literacy, source-orientation, top-down message flow, and pro-innovation biases.”

What would an analysis today reveal in varied extension settings?

Reference: Use a title search (“The biases of extension communication”) or author search (Melkote) for the full citation, including reference to Dissertation Abstracts International.

People – “right bang in the centre.”

These themes remind us of a need expressed more than 15 years ago by Nora C. Quebral:

“We badly need a development communication model that puts people not at one end as sources or at the other end as receivers, but right bang in the centre where the media channels are… With such a model perhaps the media will cease to seem larger than life…”

Reference: Use a title search (“People, not media, communicate”) or author search (Quebral) for the full citation.

Digital age raises legal questions for agricultural freelance journalists.

Are electronic rights included in “first rights” for which writers and photographers are paid? Can a publication that buys a story for print also use it in electronic form or sell it for online use without the freelancer’s additional permission? A recent article in American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) ByLine newsletter explores this matter, including recent legal action by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reference: Use a title search (“All for Tasini”) or author search (Sapp) for the full citation.

Some other quandries for U.S. agricultural reporters.

Several types of potential bias are on the minds of U.S. farm broadcasters these days. Here are bias-related challenges raised in a recent issue of National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) Chats newsletter:

  • Providing equitable coverage of various rural interest groups.
  • Avoiding limited, static pools of information sources.
  • Interpreting agriculture-related issues to urban listeners.
  • Reporting on activities and perspectives of protest groups.
  • Dealing with pressures between reporting roles and advocacy roles.

Reference: Use a title search (“Your bias”) or author search (McRee-DeSha) for the full citation.

Thanks and best wishes to Hui Liu

Who leaves the Center this month to take a new position with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications here at the University of Illinois. Hui served the Center most ably during the past 2 1/2 years as graduate research assistant and Center coordinator. This summer he completed his master’s degree in library and information science. He has been instrumental in redesigning the ACDC web site, managing the database and collection, strengthening information services and building the collection to a current level of more than 18,000 documents.

Professional activities approaching:

November 2, 2001
Deadline for abstracts of research presentations proposed for the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) to meet February 2-6, 2002, in Orlando, Florida.
Information: Edith Chenault at

November 14-18, 2001
“Every day is game day: there is NO off season.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters at Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri.

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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