ACDC News – Issue 02-15

Competitive intelligence for tobacco public relations. 

A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health described how the tobacco industry collects information about public health groups. Methods cited include information gathering under false pretenses, covertly taped strategy sessions, public relations spies at meetings, and others. The author concluded that “public health advocates often make light of tobacco industry observers, but industry surveillance may be real, intense, and covert and may obstruct public health initiatives.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Tobacco industry surveillance”) or author search (Malone) for the full citation. The journal article [92(6): 955-960] was posted on:

Are the Internet and mobile phones changing life styles?

Not much in Japan, according to a national sample of 2,818 Japanese 16 years and older. Authors of the study that is reported in NHK Broadcasting Studies2002 found: “Many people are tapping the new media, using mobile phones and the Internet. They tend to feel that not much has changed in their daily lives by adopting these media.” When asked whether the Internet will change their future life style, 38 percent said the Internet “will change things” while 31 percent said it “won’t change things.”

Among the respondents employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, 30 percent reported that they use mobile phones. Internet use was low within this occupational group, with only 5 percent using both mobile phones and the Internet.

Reference: Use a title search (“Will the Internet take the place”) or author search (Shuichi) for the full citation.

Lots of farm radio listeners.

“Imagine a radio network with 440 million listeners – more than the combined population of the United States, Canada and Mexico. That network exists in the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network (DCFRN), Toronto, Canada,” according to Julienne Spence and Sarah Andrewes in a recent Agri Marketing feature. They explained that DCFRN has “educated radio listeners in developing countries since 1979 and established itself as the leading rural radio network for farmers.” In this article they described the formation, philosophy and approach used by this network that now spans 70 countries with more than 500 partner stations and 600 members. Funding comes primarily from donations and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Reference: Use a title search (“Spanning the globe”) or author search (Spence) for the full citation. The article was posted (June 2002 issue) on:

Farm broadcaster says this probably tops the list.

“As I reflect back upon the many great things I have been involved in, this probably tops the list,” said Ed Slusarcrzyk of the Ag Radio Network, Utica, New York in the July issue of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Chats newsletter. This article reported on recent activities of Slusarcrzyk and a colleague concerning Uganda. They took part in a conference of the East African Rural Broadcasters Association involving representatives from about 55 East African radio stations that serve millions of rural listeners. The report included a description of follow-up activities sparked by this interaction.

Reference: Use a title search (“Radio in Uganda”) or author search (Slusaracrzyk) for the full citation.

“Communicating about biotechnology” is the theme of a special issue of the online journal, AgBioForum.

Articles in this recent issue examine how consumers form perceptions about new technologies, such as agricultural biotechnology. Titles include:

  • “A primer on risk: an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about public understanding of agbiotech”
  • “Sending messages nobody wants to hear: a primer in risk communication”
  • “The dynamics of scientific controversies”
  • “Communication of food-related risks”
  • “Opinions about biotechnologies”
  • “Public perceptions and willingness-to-pay a premium for non-GM foods in the US and UK”
  • “The public debate on agrobiotechnology: a biotech company’s perspective”
  • “Mass media communications about agrobiotechnology”
  • “Compartmentalization: implications for food biotechnology coverage”

Reference: Use title searches for the full citations. The issue (Volume 4, Numbers 3 and 4) was posted online at:

Netwar – “a much more fruitful avenue of study.”

 A commentary by ePublic Relations Ltd. noted that much of the AgBioForum issue was devoted to risk theory – risk perception, risk management and risk communications. “Unfortunately, such devotion to understanding risk offers only limited insight into appreciating the opposition to biotechnology.” The commentary suggested that biotech communicators “adopt the mindset of a netwarrior” and described an all-channel network approach.

Reference: Use a title search (“21st century PR”) for the full citation. The commentary was posted

Three kinds of change-related communicating.

We noted them recently while reviewing the proceedings of a 1970 workshop about communicating with the rural disadvantaged. Participants heard a suggestion from Louis A. Zurcher, Jr., that they consider three kinds of change-related communication:

  • Communication for change. Transmits motivational messages – encouragement to join, to learn, to be trained, to receive service, to modify some set of personality or social characteristics
  • “Such communication can be informative, educational, and accomplish at least some degree of poverty amelioration.”
  • Communication of change. Transmits what is happening or has happened that impinges upon the conditions that sustain poverty. “This form of communication can create a sense of legitimacy, of effectiveness, for poverty intervention attempts.”
  • Communication as change. Combines both of the other kinds, and “adds an important perspective of the change process. … The characteristics of both the advantaged and disadvantaged are seen to be part of the same overall social milieu and to have points of similarity as well as difference.” This perspective, he argued, helps maintain feelings of self-esteem and control in one’s social and physical environment.

Reference: Use a title search (“Characteristics of the disadvantaged”) or author search (Zurcher) for the full citation.

Communication – not always a change agent.

A deceptively simple observation by N. L. Chowla might speak to those today who are surprised or disappointed by the lingering agricultural biotechnology “debate” and other contentious issues. Chowla wrote in a 1983 issue of Media Asia:

“Communication is like a two-edged sword which works both ways – for reinforcement as well as for change.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Change – an Indian overview”) or author search (Chowla) for the full citation.

Professional activities approaching.

September 6-8, 2002
Meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists at St. Paul, Minnesota.

September 12-14, 2002
“The Atlantic Odyssey.” Annual meeting of the Canadian Farm Writers’
Federation at Fredericton, New Brunswick.

September 18-20, 2002
“Looking Back to Our Future.” Fall meeting of Agricultural Relation
Council in Chicago, Illinois.
Information: 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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