ACDC News – Issue 02-04

Best diet available? Who knows? 

Not the national sample of U.S. adults who were surveyed last year in the Health News Interest Index Poll. They were asked which type of diet is “the best nutritionally, the most likely to keep weight off, as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.” Fifty-eight percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer the question. Other responses were divided among the moderate-fat, high-carbohydrate diet such as the Food Guide Pyramid (18 percent); high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet (14 percent); and low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet (10 percent).

Reference: Use a title search (“Health News Interest Index Poll”) or author search (Princeton Survey Research Associates) for the full citation.

Same with sources of salmonella and other disease-causing bacteria found on meat and poultry.

Only 16 percent of U.S. adults interviewed last year in a Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Survey correctly said that such bacteria came from animal feces. There is room for useful educational communicating in this food safety arena.

Reference: Use a title search (“Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”) or author search (Opinion Research Corporation) for the full citation. Detailed responses to this survey question are posted in the Academic Universe of Lexis-Nexis:

So much greenwash.

A Business Horizons article about green marketing noted that “a great deal of environmental promotion has been labeled ‘greenwash,’ having little if any real ecological meaning.” The authors observed that consumer skepticism and cynicism toward green claims may generally limit the benefit of green promotion. Such promotion “needs to communicate substantive environmental information to consumers that has meaningful links to corporate activities.” This article moves beyond token-level posturing to an integrated, strategic approach.

Reference: Use a title search (“Reevaluating green marketing”) or author search (Polonsky) for the full citation. Full text is available online at:

A poverty of theory. 

Darren Schmidt recently provided some thoughtful insights about information in extension. In an extension conference paper added recently to the ACDC collection, he observed that the label “information” is having an identity crisis. He said it “has become so catholic in its scope and its vast diversity of uses that it is at grave risk of becoming diluted beyond usefulness. His analysis included information theories extending across mathematical models (e.g., Shannon and Weaver), diffusion theory, systems perspectives, interpretivism, structuralism and semiotics. Still, he argued, information “apparently refuses to behave as a variable should and morphs in structure and intent as it zooms around human systems sustaining purposeful human activity.

Where does this leave the extension professional? Schmidt asked. “Who has time for epistemological chin scratching when there is a brochure to be printed before the summer harvest.?” However, he said, the future may herald a different urgency in an era when it is beguiling to reduce extension information to “a series of discrete bubbles of knowledge produced, stored and sent digitally.” He suggested that extension professionals need to regard the “information” concept more rigorously, drawing upon a creditable body of literature and theoretical development that exists.

Reference: Use a title search (“Information in extension”) or author search (Schmidt) for the full citation. Paper posted online at:

Profit not the biotech bottom line for farmers?

A recent news report in the Chicago Tribune described research showing that economic reasons are not fueling the growing popularity of genetically modified crops among U.S. farmers. Why would farmers use these crops without clear economic benefit?

  • “For herbicide-tolerant soybeans, farmers answer by saying they can cover more acres more quickly and they don’t have to worry about weed management as they did in the past.”
  • “.farmers who used the modified corn seed said they viewed it as insurance against a possible insect infestation.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Gene-altered crops costly”) or author (Van) for the full citation. Text is posted online at:

Be mature and maintain a sense of humour. 

Biotechnology communicators heard that advice from consultant Monica Coneys during a recent workshop, the first of its kind in Canada. A summary of her comments appeared in the January issue of AgBiotech Bulletin. This article also summarized thoughts and advice from other speakers about specific aspects of biotech communicating: web development and maintenance, media relations and news writing style.

Reference: Use a title search (“AWB hosts biotech”) for the full citation. The report is archived online (January 9, 2002) at:

“What if we popularized agricultural communication?” 

Hans Matthiesen, president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, raised this question in a recent editorial in IFAJ News. He said he thinks that agricultural reporting presented like other news in newspapers, radio and television “would make understanding difficult agricultural issues even harder.” At the same time, he said, “we should think about how we can better communicate to consumers nationally and internationally the facts about food and beverages. . In the global debate about agriculture and food, we as communicators should not stand at the back of the line.”

Reference: Use a title search (“What if we popularized”) or author search (Matthiesen) for the full citation. The editorial is posted on:

Television – “like a grenade” in cultures. 

When Scott R. Olson examined the role of television in social change and national development, he concluded: “Television is not the magic bullet that most developers and the general public still assume it to be. It is more like a grenade, bursting little bits of social change like shrapnel into the cultural fabric, unpatterned and unpredictable, now and then a dud, sometimes exploding in the face of its master. Bullet or grenade, there is no doubt that television is a powerful weapon for national development. The question is how to control it.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Television in social change”) or author search (Olson) for the full citation.

When the live links go dark. 

What can you do when a live link shown in ACDC News or an online citation no longer operates?

  • Sometimes the “error” message directs you to an archive
  • Sometimes you can shorten the URL stem, visit the home page and trace the item that you seek.
  • If these techniques don’t work, get in touch with us. We archive the documents in ACDC, either in paper or electronic format, and will try to help you locate the materials you want. Even when the live links go dark.

Professional meetings approaching.

March 8-9, 2002
ACT Regional Conference hosted by the Oklahoma State University Chapter of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Stillwater, OK. Career-oriented workshops feature professionals in agricultural public relations, advertising, broadcasting, publications and more.

March 29, 2002
Deadline for 1- to 2-page abstracts to be submitted for papers proposed for presentation during Research Special Interest Group sessions of the Agricultural Communicators in Education meeting, Savanna, Georgia USA, during August.
Information: Sherrie Whaley at

April 17-19, 2002
“Catch the rhythm.” Agri-marketing conference and trade show at Nashville, Tennessee USA. Sponsored by National Agri-Marketing Association.

April 18, 2002
Public relations sessions and membership meeting of Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Nashville, Tennessee.

May 18-22, 2002
“Innovation through cooperation.” National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) at Pennsylvania State University. For persons interested in using or supporting technology in extension. Information:

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 unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form (

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