ACDC News – Issue 03-05

Why the farm press concentrates on conventional agriculture and downplays alternative agriculture.

Pressures from advertisers or other interest groups? Desire to avoid controversy? Lack of reader interest? Results of graduate research by Sharon Wood-Turley suggest another reason. “This study reveals…that the explanation for the concentration on conventional agriculture in the farm press is closely related to the ideological leanings toward the technocracy that prevail among many of the agricultural journalists who write for mainstream farm publications.”

The study involved use of Q-methodology to define the attitudes of a sample of farmers and agricultural journalists, university researchers and government workers. Most members of the farm press fit within a type identified as “Technocrats with Blinders,” that is “enamored with technology.” The author examined implications of these findings and suggested communication strategies “that would lead to more thoughtful, balanced reporting of technological advances in agriculture and to greater coverage of alternatives to those technologies.” Findings also carry implications for those who help aspiring agricultural journalists prepare for their careers.

Reference: On the ACDC “Real Search” page, use a title search (Assessment and comparison of attitudes) or an author search (Wood-Turley) for the full citation.

Rural communities as forgotten resources.

“Villages: the forgotten resource” is the title of an article written 20 years ago about communications needs in “developing countries.” The author, chief of a United Nations communications unit, sounded a note similar to today’s experience in the U.S. as many rural communities face decline. He argued that local communities hold untapped potentials. Some governments, he noted, were looking toward small industries and other approaches to help rural areas and take advantage of the potentials within them.

“That is where communications will play a big part,” he suggested, especially with training of rural residents and marketing of their outputs. What parallels hold, or might hold, today?

Reference: Use a title search (Villages: the forgotten resource) for the full citation.

Innovative local uses of new information technologies. 

Here are several examples that we have found in documents added recently to the ACDC collection:

  • In India, an experimental network of village centers provides weather reports, produce prices and other local and global information via Internet. Reference: Use a title search ( or author search (Le Page) for the full citation.
  • In rural Malaysia, mobile Internet units are used to provide computer training for teachers and students. Reference: Use a title search (Internet on wheels) or author search (Wong) for the full citation.
  • In Australia, several kinds of online conversation groups permit interaction of rural and urban women across state and national boundaries. Reference: Use a title search (Voices from elsewhere) or author search (Grace) for the full citation.

One of the highest adoption rates. 

The global area of transgenic (genetically modified) crops increased 35-fold during the past seven years, according to an annual global review conducted by Dr. Clive James. Commercial transgenic crops totaled 58.7 million hectares in 2002, compared with 1.7 million hectares in 1996. “This ranks as one of the highest adoption rates for crop technologies,” according to the summary report.

Reference: Use a title search (2002 global GM crop) or author search (James) for the full citation. The summary was posted on:

Five mistaken marketing assumptions about biotechnology. 

A recent article in the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology described “mistaken marketing assumptions about biotechnology:”

  • “The biotechnology controversy will be forgotten”
  • “Science sells and fear fails: people will be biotech advocates once they have the facts”
  • “Consumers buy products, not processes”
  • “Good for medicine means good for food”
  • “Biotechnology education is a trade association issue”

Researchers Brian Wansink and Junyong Kim also suggested some implications for effective consumer education and marketing.

Reference: Use a title search (Consumer marketing of biotechnology) or author search (Wansink) for the full citation. The article was posted on:

Coverage gaps and bias – agricultural and general news perspectives. 

“What agricultural industry communication specialists perceived as important issues in agriculture was different than the pattern of coverage of those issues in popular periodicals.” So concluded Barbara Whitaker in her master’s thesis about coverage of agricultural and food safety issues in the U.S. Content analysis also indicated that the three selected news periodicals (Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report) provided more coverage (62%) of such issues than did the selected agricultural periodicals (Farm Journal, Progressive Farmer and Successful Farming) (38%). An analysis of news bias indicated “both news and agricultural periodicals contained biased reporting.”

Reference: Use a title search (comparison of levels of bias) or author search (Whitaker) for the full citation.

Other recent research about media coverage of agriculture.

 Are you interested in other recent documents about this lively topic? If so, do “Subject” cross-searches on the “Real Search” page of the ACDC web site, using subject terms such as:
<“mass media” coverage>
<“mass media” reporting>
<accuracy reporting>
<bias reporting>

Some are available in full-text electronic form.

Pioneering Canadian agricultural communications students.

During late January a group of about 25 University of Guelph undergraduates formed the first international chapter of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. It’s the Canadian Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (CanACT) and it is affiliated with the U.S.-based National ACT organization. President Kendra Kelton of Oklahoma State University was on hand to help celebrate this initiative.

Members will use CanAct to “help connect budding professional agricultural communicators with those in industry.” A news report explained that approaching events of the Guelph chapter include discussions with guest speakers about topics ranging from agricultural communications through radio and television to how to get started as a freelance writer.

Reference: Information about CanACT is posted at:
Information about National ACT is posted at

Professional activities 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).

June 18-22, 2003
“Farming under the public eye.” Meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists at the Agricultural University of Wageningen, The

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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