ACDC News – Issue 03-15


Five agriculture-related “muckraking” efforts that changed America.

A recent book, Muckraking: the journalism that changed America, includes five reporting efforts that involved rural people and issues. They included:

  • John Steinbeck introduces America to the plight of California migrants, San Francisco News, 1936.
  • Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper attacks the swill milk that was killing New York children, 1858.
  • Nick Kotz of the Des Moines (Iowa) Register finds loopholes in federal meat laws, 1967.
  • Rachel Carlson creates a firestorm by saying that pesticides are killing birds and mammals, Silent Spring, 1962.
  • Voice from the hollows: Homer Bigart writes of poverty in Appalachia and sets off a war on poverty, New York Times, 1963.

Reference: On the “Real Search” page, use a title search (Muckraking) or author search (Serrin) for the full citation.

What rural reporting efforts might you add to this list?

Send your nominations to us at We will report on them in ACDC News.

And some not-so-great reporting.

“Health news that’s unhealthy” is the title of a recent piece by Mervin Block in Television Newswriting Workshop. He cited several examples of flawed medical stories on network newscasts – some inaccurate, some misleading, some mishandled.

Among the food-related items was a report on CBS about a study finding that a glass of wine a day – especially red wine – may help prevent colds. Block’s response: “A finding? Not at all. And again, who conducted the study?”

Reference: Use a title search (Health news) or author search (Block) for the full citation. The report was posted online at:

Rural news (150 years ago).

Hops production. Spitzenburg apples. Osier stripping. Kit Carson’s travel schedule. Scientific farming. These and other topics from an 1853 issue of Country Gentleman magazine came under review recently in an interesting commentary published by the New York Times.

Reference: Use a title search (Country Gentleman) or author search (Klinkenborg) for the full citation. The commentary was posted online at

Market Information Organization of the Americas is emerging.

Sandra Cuellar of Colombia described it earlier this year at the 2003 Agricultural Outlook Forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Representatives from 10 countries formed MIOA in 1999 with three primary goals:

  • Promote cooperation among member institutions
  • Create standards for terminology, methodology and technology
  • Facilitate the timely and consistent exchange of market information among the member countries

Cuellar reported that trade in agricultural products among countries of the Free Trade Area of the Americas totals $53.2 billion. More than 95 percent of that total involves the 20 countries that now take part in MIOA through working groups that are getting under way.

Reference: Use a title search (Market information organization) or author search (Cuellar) for the full citation. A Power Point presentation was posted at

Creative media partnership in biotech reporting.

A news item that we added recently to the ACDC collection featured a creative effort during 2000 that involved Oregon Public Broadcasting and several newspaper partners.

“Visitors to the site can take interactive quizzes on their attitudes toward genetically engineered food and the use of their own tissue for genetic research,” according to this report from the Pew Center for Civic Journalism. Efforts by the media partners also involved online focus groups, a town hall meeting, and live call-in shows.

Reference: Use a title search ( for the full citation. The report was posted online at:

Thanks and best wishes to Center Coordinator Yiqi Zhou as she moves to a new stage of her career.

Yiqi completed her master’s degree in Library and Information Science during May and is taking a new position as librarian at Ashland Community College, Ashland, Kentucky.

Yiqi joined the Center in November 2001 as half-time research assistant and spearheaded nearly two years of remarkable progress. For example, through efforts that she coordinated the ACDC literature collection has grown at a record pace since she arrived, from 19,000 to more than 23,000 documents. The Center web site, including the searchable bibliographic database, served a record number of nearly 98,000 requests during 2002. Users from more than 30 countries visited the site and requested files during the year.

Among other contributions, Yiqi redesigned the ACDC web site, expanded the use of live links and helped implement a new “Features” page on the site. We are most grateful for her skillful, dedicated service and wish her the best in her career.

Notice of a new Center e-mail address.

You will notice a slightly different e-mail address for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Our new address is:

Please use this address for future e-mail contact with the Center. Also, please change any local address book entries you may have on your local computers for the Center. Security and spam-related problems account for this revision. Thank you.

Professional activities approaching

September 26-28, 2003
Fall meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists Association (NAAJ) in Omaha, Nebraska.

September 28-30, 2003
“Media relations made easy.” A superworkshop of Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE) at New Orleans, Louisiana.

October 1, 2003
Deadline for research papers and professional papers to be considered for presentation to the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists.
SAAS meets in Tulsa, Oklahoma

February 14-18, 2004.
Submissions open to all members of Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE).

On sea harvests and shoe selection.

By popular request, we end this issue with two more classified advertisements. They come from a rural newspaper published in 1908.

“Wanted – a boy to open oysters fifteen years old.”
“Personal – Edward Jones has opened a shoestore on Front Street. Mr. Jones guarantees that any one can have a fit in his store.”

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 (at

August 2003

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