ACDC News – Issue 02-08

Mass media in 2025. Will we have to use our brains? “

Because the technology undoubtedly will be interactive, we are about to be weaned from a fifty-year vacation from having to use our brains,” according to Robert M. Knight. “That vacation has been fostered by television. Because TV is addictive and demands nothing, many Americans have failed to develop one of the brain’s best organizers, the language that communicates and processes the data, knowledge, and information that the brain absorbs and disseminates. But now, if we are to use an interactive medium, we will be required not only to read, but, somehow, in some way, to write. And maybe the experience of writing will enrich our brains just enough that we will again begin to demand that the news media behave responsibly.”

Knight’s perspectives appeared in Chapter 11 of Erwin K. Thomas and Brown H. Carpenter (eds.), Mass media in 2025: industries, organizations, people, and nations. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut. 2001. 202 pages.

Agricultural public relations professionals may be encouraged by a prediction elsewhere in that book.

“Who will be the public relations practitioner of 2025?” asked Julie K. Henderson in Chapter 6. “Who will be more successful, the generalist or the specialist? The evidence seems to be leaning toward the specialist. While it is important to master the general skills of communication, future practitioners understand they must become generalized specialists. Increasingly in the future, specific public relations jobs will be awarded to the practitioner who demonstrates specialized expertise in the particular area at issue.”

Sorting out some communication concepts. 

We recently added a report in which Muiru Ngugi discussed several concepts that are often confusing and misunderstood. They included the following:

  •    Development communication
  •    Non-development communication
  •    Development journalism
  •    Development support communication

Reference: Use a title search (“Development communication: a clarification”) or author search (Ngugi) for the full citation.

You can find more useful sorting of concepts in the 2002 edition of Handbook of international and intercultural communication.

Everett M. Rogers and William B. Hart provide an 18-page foreword entitled:

“The histories of intercultural, international, and development communication”

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

Need for improved communicating was a key theme at a recent international conference,

“New biotechnology food and crops: science, safety and society.” More than 250 participants from 58 countries took part in this conference in Bangkok, Thailand. It was co-sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Government of the United Kingdom, in cooperation with other national and international organizations.

Calls for improved communicating appeared frequently in a report of the conference. For example, participants recommended:

  • Addressing the public’s real concerns about biotechnology
  • Providing greater openness and transparency of information
  • Improving access to and the sharing of information across a wider range of stakeholders
  • Improving the validation of information about biotechnology
  • Addressing concerns about biopiracy, “whereby biological resources of developing countries may be misappropriated, without adequate compensation to their traditional owners”
  • Improving “multilateral processes” and international consensus building

Reference: Use a title search (“New biotechnology food and crops”) for the full citation. The rapporteurs’ report was posted online at:

Profound $$$ impacts of international food safety crises. 

A recent analysis of three such crises documented these impacts and highlighted the role that effective communications can play. Jean C. Buzby of the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, analyzed economic impacts of three highly publicized issues:

  •    A relatively minor outbreak (1996) of Cyclospora from Guatemalan raspberries “had a tremendous impact on the industry, and other Guatemalan exports suffered as well.”
  •    Announcement (1996) in Britain of a possible link between “mad cow disease” in cattle and a new strain of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease in humans “virtually stopped international trade of U.K. live cattle and bovine products.”
  •    Animal feed in Belgium inadvertently contaminated (1999) with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or cancer-causing dioxin “affected a large array of agricultural industries in Belgium.” Estimated cost to the Belgian economy: more than $750 million.

Findings documented how consumer concerns about food safety unleash economic and even political impacts. Buzby emphasized that “timely and appropriate responses from governments and implicated industries can help minimize damage from the crisis to food markets and consumer confidence.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Effects of food-safety perceptions”) or author search (Buzby) for the full citation. The report was posted online at:

Local radio – helping keep in touch with heritage and culture. 

Results of research by Alex Ortiz at the University of Florida emphasized the importance of Mexican culture, even among third and fourth generation Mexican-Americans. The title of this 2001 master’s thesis:

“Ethnic assimilation, national identity, and mass media: an analysis of radio use in Hardee County, Florida”

His analysis involved Mexican-Americans in a rural agricultural community. Findings prompted him to conclude that “current Hispanics.will create a new multiethnic identity, unlike those of European immigrants, which will carry stronger and extended cultural ties from the sending country.” Tracking listenership of local Spanish-language and English-language radio stations, he also found radio a “critical influence” in reaching the Hispanic market of that community. “Radio was used both by parents interested in Spanish-language broadcasts, and by their bilingual children, who could choose to listen to both Spanish-language and English-language broadcasts.”

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

Professional activities approaching.

June 20-22, 2002
“Catch the spirit.” Seminar of American Horse Publications at Park City, Utah.

June 20-22, 2002
“NAFB – back to the heartland.” Summer meeting of National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

June 22-25, 2002
“Take the road less traveled.” Annual Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) at Burlington, Vermont.

July 22-25, 2002
“Hit the jackpot in Reno!” Agricultural Publications Summit, fourth annual joint meeting of American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Livestock Publications Council, APA: the Association of Leading Ag Media Companies, and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. Meeting at Reno, Nevada.
Information: orwww.livestockpublications.comBack to top

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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