ACDC News – Issue 03-20

Cybercafes and other local community networks 

were featured in an international conference report that we added recently to the ACDC collection. The Internet can “play a vital role in supporting local communities in social, educational, cultural, and economic development,” said reporter Madanmohan Rao. One speaker reported that nearly 5,000 cybercafes around the world are giving cyberspace a human face. They “are community centers for the 21st century.”

This document identified some local community networking projects in various parts of the world and mentioned the role of libraries, FM radio and other local channels for communicating.

Reference: On the ACDC search page, conduct a title search (Local community networks) or author search (Rao) for the full citation. The report was posted on:

Networks are important, as long as they belong to the radio stations. 

That perspective about local radio broadcasting came from a presenter at the First International Workshop on Farm Radio Broadcasting in Rome, Italy, during 2001. It differs markedly from trends in network ownership of U.S. radio stations.

Reference: Use a title search (The action of Francophonie) or author search (Lamonde) for the full citation. The presentation was posted on:

More than a dozen agricultural topics 

Appear in the fourth edition (2002) of The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. This idea-sparking resource identifies documents, databases and techniques that reporters can use to dig into thousands of topics. Here are some of those related to agriculture: land records, agricultural programs, water pollution, soil pollution, rural utilities (electric, telephone, water), farm credit banks, food stamps, animals, biotechnology and food assistance programs.

Reference: “Database Search” page of the ACDC web site, use a title search (Investigative handbook) or author search (Houston) for the full citation.

Do the mainstream media favor quiet social movements? 

Evidence of “yes” appeared in a study by Ann Reisner about how six national newspapers covered the farm use of pesticides. The topic is one in which the interests of agriculture (a morally good occupation) and environment (nature as a moral value) conflict.

“The study showed that, contrary to expectations, newspapers supported social change (were largely critical of pesticide use and sympathetic to organic agriculture). Farmers were portrayed positively as quiet social movement participants, and newspapers suggested that government and universities were blocking infrastructural change that should be supported. The study contradicts earlier theories of the press and social movements that suggest that newspapers contain, rather than promote, social change.”

Reference: Use a title search (Newspaper construction) or author search (Reisner) for the full citation.

Extension – more than a conduit of messages. 

The “conduit” role is appropriate, but too narrow. So argued Charles Antholt in a journal article that we added recently to the ACDC collection. “If this is the principal role conceived for extension, it would be more appropriate to concentrate on reducing the unit cost of information transfer.”

The author emphasized three added roles for extension. He was applying them to extension services for farmers in Pakistan, but they seem equally appropriate and important for other audiences and settings.

  1. Enhance the ability of families to use the resources available to them for their own well being.
  2. Diagnose problems and articulate them as necessary to public or private sector research organization
  3. Help groups organize to help themselves.

Reference: Use a title search (Strategic issues) or author search (Antholt) for the full citation.

Into the wastebasket – for survival. 

“Think for a moment of the poor editors,” urged a commentator in a 1933 issue of The Dairy Record. “Do you know, gentle reader…that the editor spends a lot of his time throwing ‘news’ from the various government departments, the 48 state colleges, the 48 state departments of agriculture and lesser fry, into the waste basket?”

“Do you know what happens to a publication that prints this stuff in too liberal quantities? I’ll tell you. They go broke in a year’s time. If the editor and advertising manager suddenly decided to print this news – technically known as blah – they would end up…with one shirt between them.”

Reference: Use a title search (Is this sort of thing) for the full citation.

On the other hand, is access to government information being limited? 

That question is alive, as it applies to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can follow it on the “USDA Media Access Issue” section of the North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) web site ( The issue sparked during May when Sally Schuff, Washington editor of Feedstuffs, described two examples of USDA efforts to limit press access. In one case, reporters were told they could not seek hallway interviews after “closed-press” meetings in USDA buildings. You will find postings of interactions between mid-May and mid-July, including a response from USDA Press Secretary Alisa Harrison.

Some dilemmas for journalists covering risk issues. 

We recently added to the ACDC collection a document that examined four dilemmas facing journalists who cover risk issues such as pollution:

  1. Is balance always desirable? “No.”
  2. Is balance a simple arithmetic matter of giving an equal number of pro and anti statements or points of view? “Several dangers lurk in this view of balance.”
  3. How does the journalist’s choice of sources affect the overall slant of his or her news story? Use “official” or ” expert” sources without question? Use fringe group sources or extreme opinions to spice up stories?
  4. To what extent does or should the journalist’s or news organization’s own judgments about the merits of a particular issue influence the way a story is told?

Reference: Use a title search (Role of the media) or author search (Lichtenberg) for the full citation.

Ten millionth volume. 

The University of Illinois Library, with which the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center is affiliated, acquired its 10 millionth volume during October. With a total of all materials now at 23 million, the UI Library is the largest public university library in the world. We are thankful daily in having a great pool of resources available in our search for agricultural communications literature.

And you add much through your encouragement and help in strengthening this collection.

On serenading pigs. 

A British farmer who plays classical music to his pigs created a “bitter local row” this fall after his neighbors complained to local authorities. Too noisy, said the neighbors. However, according to the Agence France Pressearticle, farmer Raymond Collier insisted that his animals sleep much better after a symphony or two.

“It calms them down and it might even make them grow bigger.”

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. Send

  • hard copies to:
    Ag Com Documentation Center
    510 LIAC Library
    1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • or electronic copies to:

November 2003

Updated on