ACDC News – Issue 03-06

Going online for further information. 

Internet users in rural areas (45%) and small towns (47%) were more likely than those in large cities (38%) or suburbs (39%) to go online for additional information about stories they first saw in traditional media. These findings came from a 1996 Pew Research study that we added recently to the ACDC collection. Researchers observed considerable crossover among online users between use of traditional media and use of the Internet. They speculated that rural-urban differences may reflect “the limitations of the traditional media available to [rural and small town residents] locally.”

Reference: Use a title search (“News attracts most”) for the full citation. The summary of findings was posted on:

Rural and urban views of wilderness. 

Similar, but quite different. That’s what researchers found in a study of attitudes and perceptions of wilderness in the U.S. Survey findings indicated that both rural and urban respondents expressed a positive attitude toward wilderness and a relatively high degree of environmental concern. However, findings from a photo task revealed that rural and urban residents differed in their understanding of what constitutes wilderness – and perceived the same environment in different ways.

Reference: Use a title search (“Wilderness”) or author search (Lutz) for the full citation.

Accuracy and appeal of those TV weathercasts. 

Researcher Jeffrey Demas noted recently that television weather has not been studied in a communication journal since 1982. So he analyzed the accuracy of weather forecasts in central Ohio (USA) and interviewed 315 residents of that area. Among his findings:

  • Stations were very accurate in predicting within 48 hours, but quite inaccurate in extended forecasts.
  • The surveyed residents said they not only rely on the five-day forecasts, but also believe them to be accurate.
  • Most respondents said they choose weather forecasts for reasons other than perceived accuracy.

Reference: Use a title search (“Weather accuracy”) or author search (Demas) for the full citation. The research paper was posted (September 2002, Week 1) on:

Looking for agriculture-related literature on weather reporting?

We actively collect documents about this subject because weather information is often critically important to agricultural producers. You can identify dozens of documents if you search the ACDC collection using “weather” or “weather reports” as subject terms on the “Real Search” page. And you will see need and opportunity for more research about this aspect of agricultural communications.

Surprises off the beaten path. 

It’s always a surprise to see the wide scatter of literature about the communications aspects of agriculture, food, rural affairs and related topics. As you know, we actively search for such literature, wherever it originates. Here are several examples of diverse periodicals from which we gathered articles during recent weeks: Ambio, IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, American Behavioral Scientist, Ziff Davis Smart Business, Choices, Economic Botany, Journal of Community Psychology, Public Management, Agroforestry Systems, Expert Systems with Application, Substance Use and Misuse, and Food Policy.

As always, we welcome leads from you. Our limited efforts hardly scratch the surface in identifying and helping make available the global body of information about this important subject.

We are not alone in struggling to identify literature related to the communications aspects of agriculture. 

After all, what should be defined as agriculture? Agricultural librarians and documentalists have wrestled for decades with this question, globally.

“I find it difficult to bring to mind a single subject that may not be implicated [in agriculture],” D. Leatherdale put it in 1973. According to B. Oviss Oruma in 1987, “Agriculture before the 20th century was understood to be related rather narrowly to farming. Since then, however, documentalists, agriculturists and agricultural researchers have redefined agriculture so generally as to make it unmanageably vast. So broad has agriculture become that it now embraces animal sciences, crop husbandry, forestry, fisheries, human food and nutrition, rural development and sociology, biotic resources, environmental sciences and much more.”

Today, we can add substantially to that list as agriculture is seen to encompass the entire food chain and the public/consumer aspects related to it. And, of course, every part of agriculture involves communications – the other partner concept of interest to us.

Reference: Use a title search (“Problems of information management in agriculture”) or author search (Oruma) for the full citation.

At the same time, our knowledge base is deteriorating – physically. 

We are continually challenged by reports such as one in 1992 from the National Agricultural Library. The title read, “Study finds nation’s agricultural knowledge in danger.” Findings indicated that more than one-half of the monographs and serials in that important collection were disintegrating. More than one-fourth were brittle at that time, the contents in need of transfer to another medium.

We at ACDC share in the urgency of that mandate. Our role must involve not only helping identify and gather useful information, but also helping preserve it.

Reference: Use a title search (Study finds agricultural) or author search (Norris) for the full citation.

Risks of reporter specialization. 

What happens when newspapers use specialized reporters on the news staff? Will specialized reporters increase the diversity of media content and help the public become informed about a wider range of public problems?

A research report that we added recently to the ACDC collection provided little support for such a scenario. Instead, researchers concluded: “What specialist reporting provides, these findings suggest, is another mechanism that makes it more likely that elites will be presented repeatedly as experts in news reports.” Findings such as these sound a caution note for agricultural reporters, among others.

Reference: Use a title search (“Specialization among reporters”) or author search (Griswold) for the full citation.

When consumers get positive and negative messages.

A recent study reported in Food Policy examined how consumers react when they are exposed to favorable and unfavorable information about food irradiation. Researchers reported:

“The surprising result is that when we presented both positive and negative information simultaneously, the negative information clearly dominated. This was true even though the source of the negative information was identified as being a consumer advocacy group and the information itself was written in a manner that was non-scientific.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Experts and activists”) or author search (Hayes) for the full citation.

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
Netherlands. 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 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

Updated on