ACDC News – Issue 03-03

A newspaper’s unique experience covering a farm worker issue. 

Transportation safety problems facing farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley of California prompted the Fresno Bee newspaper to try something new, using the Internet. The result: “Editors, publishers, webmasters, California Highway Patrolmen and California Assemblyman Dean Florez all came together for the first live bilingual forum on, December 8.” According to a case report added recently to the ACDC collection, 1,500 people “hit” the forum on Internet.

Reference: Use a title search (“forum for all”) or author search (Ford) for the full citation. The report from Pew Center for Civic Journalism was posted on:

What is information worth to food shoppers?

Plenty, according to a study reported recently in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Purdue University researchers used a marketplace experiment to learn how shoppers in Mali decided what infant food to buy. “Regardless of income or education, mothers refuse to buy the unknown,” according to the researchers. Findings showed that “a lack of information about food safety is causing many impoverished mothers in Africa to buy brand-name infant food that costs about five times more than the generic brand.” Authors discussed the need for food certification systems, as means of building trust.

Reference: Use a title search (“Ag economist calculates”) for the full citation.

Rural areas — promising growth sectors for telecommunications in India. 

“…changing the policy environment to create incentives to serve previously ignored and underserved populations is likely to be the fastest and most equitable means of achieving the goal of universal access to telecommunications and information technologies and services throughout India.” That was the counsel of Heather Hudson in a new book, Telecommunications reform in India.

Several of her points:

  • Rural demand may be much greater than assumed.
  • Rural areas may not be as expensive to serve as is often assumed.
  • Rural benchmarks need not be set lower than urban benchmarks.
  • Some rural areas may be viable for commercial franchises.

She offered policy suggestions for increasing rural teledensity in India from 0.4 lines per 1,000 population in 2000 to the national teledensity target of 7 per 100 by the year 2005 and 15 per 100 by 2010. Overall teledensity during 2000 was about 3 lines per 100.

Reference: Use a title search (“Lessons in telecommunications policy”) or author search (Hudson) for the full citation.

What students need in agricultural communications courses.

A national Delphi study conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University identified 76 competencies that are appropriate for high school students who complete courses in agricultural communications. Results showed these competencies fall within 11 topic areas:

  • Writing
  • Computer/Information technology
  • Agricultural industry
  • Communications history
  • Professional development
  • Research/Information gathering
  • Ethics
  • Public relations/advertising/marketing
  • Leadership development
  • Legislative issues
  • Communications skills

Reference: Use a title search (“High school agricultural communications”) or author search (Akers) for the full citation. The research paper was posted on:

An enduring challenge to ag journalism students (and others). 

“Your work here is to study…nature in her manifold aspects,” said W. H. Burke to 18 class members in the first agricultural journalism course taught at the University of Illinois (Spring 1907). “But when you go out to engage in your life work…remember always and everywhere that the most important thing on earth is human nature; and human nature should be our chief study and the service of man our highest earthly aim.” Burke was a guest lecturer in the new course. He edited The Strawberry, published at Three Rivers, Michigan.

Reference: Use a title search (“Literary side of agricultural journalism”) or author search (Burke) for the full citation.

You’ve been had! 

Is the title of a recent book subtitled, “How the media and environmentalists turned America into a nation of hypochondriacs.” The author, Melvin A. Benarde, is retired director of the Environmental Issues Center, Temple University. His wide-ranging analysis of what he considers scares and misinformation includes the health aspects of food and diets as well as air quality, nuclear power, hazardous waste and other matters. He cites examples of what he considers poor media coverage.

His central remedy: scientific literacy. “I propose a national campaign of scientific literacy that requires that all students demonstrate an understanding of the workings of science, religion, and pseudoscience. Such demonstration must put the media and environmentalists on notice: prepare for hard, searching questions.”

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

Pending demise of debated university/corporation partnership. 

A commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle noted “the pending demise” of a biotechnology-related research partnership between the University of California-Berkeley and the Swiss firm Syngenta. “The five-year, $25 million deal, which began in 1998 when the sponsoring firm was named Novartis, became the flash point in a debate about whether university researchers were getting hooked on corporate cash.”

“This will probably delight critics and demoralize supporters of genetically engineered foods, and each side will credit — or blame — the small but vocal group of opponents based in the environmental movement.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Agriculture, biotech mix”) for the full citation. The commentary was posted (December 24, 2002) on:

How about these rules for punctuating?

Some years ago, one typesetter explained his guidelines to a visitor in his printing office: “I set as long as I can hold my breath and then put in a comma. When I yawn I put in a semi-colon. And when I want a chew of tobacco I make a paragraph.” From The Typist.

Professional activity approaching

April 15-17, 2003
“Keep it fresh.” Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show at San Diego,
California. Sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).

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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