ACDC News – Issue 03-02

Framing agricultural (and other) issues better. 

Jan Schaffer, executive director of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, has argued that civic journalism can help reporters do their job better by framing stories better. At a workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schaffer cited an example from the editor of the Wichita Eagle newspaper. The editor described a “classic pro-con environmental story involving Kansas farmland in which his reporter decided to go and find the farmer who was neither totally for nor totally against the proposal, but was in-between.” The farmer as ambivalent, “like most readers.”

“Yet how often do we journalists play up the conflicts – the opposite sides or poles of an issue — rather than report the concerns of most of our readers. I’ll tell you one thing. It’s a lot harder to write about the gray area. We all know how to write the black and white.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Tapping hidden stories”) or author search (Schaffer) for the full citation. The speech was posted on:

New way to promote a farm paper — host a wedding. 

“The P.V. Collins Publishing Company desires the honor of your company at the marriage of the Prettiest Farm Girl in the Northwest to The Lucky Man of her choice.” Where? At the Northwestern Agriculturist Cottage of the Minnesota State Fair. When? September 5, 1907. This wedding involved Mildred Nulph of Wyndmere, North Dakota, and Julius E. Watkins of Walcott, North Dakota.

We don’t know how many guests attended or new readers subscribed.

Coverage of the recent U.S. farm broadcasters conference. 

Thanks to the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, we have added to the ACDCcollection 10 compact disks that feature program sessions at the 2002 NAFB conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Here are some of the topics addressed in these audio accounts:

  • “How to sell farm broadcasting” (Panel of farm broadcasters.)
  • “How to buy farm broadcasting” (Panel of agricultural marketing communicators.)
  • “How to use farm broadcasting” (Panel of commodity representatives and farm broadcasters.)
  • “The Wizard of Ads” (Creativity session that featured David Stanley, managing partner of Wizard of Ads, Inc.)
  • “The digital edge” (Professional improvement session that featured web site construction, electronic editing, alternative editing and one farm broadcaster’s use of a web site.)
  • “The best care in the air” (Session about organizational change and marketing strategies, featuring the approach used by Midwest Express Airlines.)

Reference: Check with us at the Center ( if you are interested in these presentations.

Also – we’ve added 33 remarkable farm radio interviews to the ACDC collection.

They are on audio cassettes in a three-volume series, “Lee Kline’s Iowa Notebook.” Lee Kline selected these interviews from his 40 years of farm broadcasting on WHO Radio, Des Moines, Iowa. He is widely known and respected for his effectiveness as a farm broadcaster – and especially for his creative human interest programming, his unique interviewing style and his emphasis on using sound, functionally. Students of farm broadcasting will find in these interviews some excellent examples of these skills. You can tell from interview titles such as:

“Perry Popcorn Lady”
“Riding in a Glider”
“Mule Power”
“Jumping Tractors”
“Sounds of Farm Machinery”
“The Auctioneers”
“Walking the Beans”

Reference: Contact the Center ( if you are interested in further information about these three audio cassettes.

When farmer-owned cooperatives go bankrupt. 

Eyes turn to communicators and educators when the post-mortems come out — suggesting that directors and other shareholders and publics need to be better informed and educated. That was the theme of a recent article in Rural Cooperatives magazine. The article reported on a timely panel discussion at the 2002 conference of Cooperative Communicators Association.

Reference: Use a title search (“Business failures underscore”) or author search (Campbell) for the full citation.

How farmers prefer to learn. 

Here are the learning styles identified in a recent Iowa State University study among Iowa farmers:

  • Active experimentation (learning by doing) seemed to be the preferred learning mode for topics related to physical farming resources (land, crops, livestock, machinery and buildings).
  • Abstract learning (by observing others) seemed to be preferred for critical thinking activities such as markets and prices, whole farm planning and financial management.

Farmers in the study also rated the effectiveness of 26 different learning activities and information sources.

Reference: Use a title search (“Assessing the learning styles”) or author search (Trede) for the full citation. The research paper was posted on:

“Large livestock farms viewed a ‘threat’.”

That title reflects findings from recent research among about 4,000 Ohio residents. Researcher Jeff Sharp of Ohio State University found that one-third said they are familiar with issues pertaining to large-scale poultry and livestock facilities. Among those, 71 percent said they are concerned that the farms pose a threat to Ohio’s water and stream quality.

Sharp recommended more public education about agriculture and more networking between farmers and non-farmers.

Reference: Use a title search (“Survey: large livestock farms viewed”) for the full citation. The report was posted on:

Check our latest “Feature Articles” page.

Labeling of biotech foods is a lively communications topic these days. If you are interested in it, we have identified some handy information for you on the ACDC web site. You will find nine documents (all retrievable in full text) about aspects such as need/value of labels, consumer attitudes toward them and consumers’ use of them.

Reference: On the ACDC home page, click on “Feature Articles.”

Professional activity approaching

February 1-5, 2003
Annual meeting of the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) at Mobile, Alabama.

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, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, Illinois 61801) or electronic form (at

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