ACDC News – Issue 02-16

Whatever happened to low-power television for rural areas?

In 1980 the Federal Communications Commission envisioned what Sterling and Kittross described as a “new age of neighborhood television stations and rural services where none existed thus far..” It launched a low-power television (LPTV) system and invited applications for such stations that might be constructed at relatively low cost. Two things happened, according to the authors in their history of American broadcasting:

  1. Applicants (including large retail marketers) flooded the FCC with hundreds of applications that slowed and complicated the process due to legal, political, procedural and other aspects.
  2. “The other problem was more serious and long lasting – how to support such tiny stations. Advertisers were not usually interested in their miniscule audiences, and few stations could afford the fees to secure programming for pay-TV.”

By the end of 1988, only 455 LPTV stations were on the air in the U.S., mainly in rural and some suburban areas. Currently, more than 2,300 of such stations operate. Have you seen reports about ways in which they are serving rural areas and interests? If so, please let us know.

Reference: Use a title search (“Stay tuned”) or author search (Sterling) for the full citation.

“Unlimited possibilities for rural America.”

A recent article in Rural Cooperatives magazine from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that “broadband communications may offer rural areas across America the ability to develop new alternatives to reliance on farm income and erase the economic gap between town and country once and for all.” It cited examples involving telemedicine and distance education services.

Reference: Use a title search (“Closing the gap”) or author search (Thompson) for the full citation.

Proceedings of National Extension Technology Conference 2002 are available online in the form of abstracts, power point presentations and full-text papers.

Here are some of the topics addressed in sessions of NETC 2002 that took place during May at Pennsylvania State University:

  • High tech, high touch extension programs
  • Virtual private networking
  • The psychology of interactions between humans and web sites
  • Imaging migration
  • Extension-related uses of distance education
  • Videoconferencing
  • Web page management
  • Protecting your Internet privacy
  • High and low tech methods of developing extension publications

Reference: The sessions were posted on:

Needed: less reverence for mass communication research.

Robert Lindsay’s comments of more than 25 years ago still provoke thought about approaches to communication research in support of agricultural and rural development. In a Media Asia article that we added recently to the ACDC collection, Lindsay suggested that “what mass communication research requires as much as anything is a rapid dissipation of the reverence with which it is treated, especially in institutions of higher learning.”

“I think we academics – professors especially but including advanced-standing aspirants to our ranks – spend far too much time in pseudo-serious theorising, in wafting to the ceilings of our classrooms and laboratories great, obfuscatory clouds of pontification about communication ‘theory,’ about models and methodological trivia and hypotheses null-and-nonsensical.” The University of Minnesota communications faculty member suggested research areas and approaches that he thought more deserving of attention.

Reference: Use a title search (“Descending from the clouds”) or author search (Lindsay) for the full citation.

New student-produced ag college magazine (online). 

A report from the University of Missouri explains that students and faculty of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources “stay posted these days by visiting: There they find the new Corner Post news site, launched in February by students of the MU agricultural journalism program as an ongoing on-line publication.” Students researched the need, then designed and planned the site in several classes under the guidance of faculty advisor Marilyn Cummins.

Visitors to the site can find news of college and student events, calendars, opinion pieces, job and internship information “and even some fun stuff.”

Experimenting with field days.

Rural-urban communicating is one purpose of some new approaches being tried for field days, according to a recent article by Rich Fee in Successful Farming magazine. He cited an example in Minnesota and examined some other forces that are leading research stations, extension educators, marketers and others to re-examine their use of field days.

Reference: Use a title search (“Field days are changing”) or author search (Fee) for the full citation.

To whom should safe food handling campaigns be addressed?

Men. College graduates. Higher income households. People younger than 65 years. A recent nationwide study reported in the Journal of Food Protection indicated that these groups of U.S. consumers use relatively less-safe practices in handling and washing fresh produce.

Reference: Use a title search (“Safety of consumer handling”) or author search (Li-Cohen) for the full citation. The article was posted on:

“None so deaf as those who don’t want to hear.”

Crispin Tickell used that expression in a recent Science commentary to describe problems of communicating about climate change. It is always hard to give climate change the appropriate public urgency, Tickell noted, even when the existence of human-driven climate change is not in doubt. “Making unwelcome changes now to avoid possible consequences in an uncertain future is a difficult proposition to sell to anyone.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Communicating climate change”) or author search (Tickell) for the full citation. The article was posted (August 2, 2002) on:

Molehills and mountains. 

The following observation by Christian Grote caught our eye in an article that we added to the ACDC collection involving information imbalance in Asia:

“A mole hill in front of one’s own door is always more interesting than the mountain elsewhere.”

 Professional activities approaching

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

October 8-10, 2002
“Agriculture is Expanding.” 2002 Agribusiness Forum sponsored byNational Agri-Marketing Association in Kansas City, Missouri.Information:

October 17-19, 2002
45th Annual Meeting, National Market News Association inPhoenix, Arizona.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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