ACDC News – Issue 03-21

On the economic value of agricultural public relations. 

A disease outbreak in strawberries gave Timothy Richards and Paul Patterson an opportunity to analyze the economic impact of media reports about it. They analyzed coverage by the top 50 newspapers in the U.S.

Adverse information reduced grower profits, the researchers found, and positive information from growers could partially offset the effects of negative information. “…both negative and positive media exposure had significant effects on commodity prices, but their impact is not symmetric.”

Reference: One the “Database Search” page, use a title search (“The economic value”) or author search (Richards) for the full citation.

More specialization coming (returning) in journalism education? 

A recent analysis of journalism education and national media systems in Europe led researchers to observe:

“In the long run, differentiation and deregulation of the national media markets will result in a higher specialization of journalists that has to be considered in journalism education. Again this development may lead to a segmentation of the profession, which means that journalists will no longer be provided with general and/or basic knowledge of journalistic skills but instead will be trained for a specific field or for specific media.”

Reference: Use a title search (Summary: challenges for journalism education) or author search (Frohlich) for the full citation.

Needed: rural radio education in Africa. 

A 1999 survey involving 18 African countries showed that 14 had at least one training institution for radio work, public or private. However, with only one exception, “there are no formal training institutions on the continent specializing in rural radio” and “very few trainers in rural radio.”

This situation exists despite the fact that “rural radio in Africa is considered the best means of communicating with rural populations” that make up a majority of African citizens.

Reference: Use a title search (Training needs for trainers) or author search (Kamlongera) for the full citation. A summary of the survey was posted on:

How news media cover small-town violence. 

“An examination of big-city newspaper coverage of violent crimes in small towns during a recent five-year period reveals a remarkable degree of uniformity in the language reporters use to characterize life in these places.” So reported Russell Frank in a recent issue of Rural Sociology. He found that newspapers deployed four core motifs in stories about crimes in small towns:

  • Everyone knows everyone else.
  • The front door is unlocked; the key is in the ignition.
  • Small towns are “sleepy” places.
  • Terrible things are not supposed to happen there.

Frank argued that small towns described in the news are symbolic landscapes reflecting a pastoral orientation among journalists and the culture at large.

Reference: Use a title search (“When bad things happen”) or author search (Frank) for the full citation.

Farmers often know more than expert professionals about the life and world around them

Njoku Awa reported in a 1989 article about indigenous knowledge in rural development. He cited examples from two studies involving local ecosystems:

  • A local informant “was able to identify by name 206 out of 211 varieties collected and could draw finer distinctions between different types of plants than the professional taxonomist for whom she was working.”
  • The average adult in a group of rural residents in the Philippines “could identify a staggering 1,600 different species, which was some 400 more than had previously been recorded in a systematic botanical survey.”

“Eventually,” Awa concluded, “the transformation in human relations implicit in the true meaning of the word ‘participation’ may turn out to be a more important change than the many worthy development projects stultified over the years by their designers’ refusal to accord local peoples (and their knowledge) the respect and seriousness that true participation involves.”

Reference: Use a title search (Indigenous knowledge) or author search (Awa) for the full citation. Awa’s vision remains timely and challenging throughout the world. You can identify many other references through subject searches in the ACDC collection. Use terms such as “indigenous knowledge,” “traditional knowledge” and “participation.”

Country radio – how it developed 

We recently added a book that may be useful to those interested in rural music and radio programming:

Rick Stockdell, The development of the country music radio format.

“It simply documents the progress country radio has made since the days of the Barn Dances and tells how country radio has grown into one of the handful of mass appeal radio formats of this day.”

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

“Dialogue instead of debate”

Is the title of an article describing efforts in Australia to improve communications about rangeland management. This controversial subject easily stirs argument. Author Stephany Kersten, University of Sydney, tested a dialogue-building process among pastoralists, extension advisors and researchers.

Keys to creating dialogue? “Issues such as relationship building before and during the meeting, respect of participants for others’ understandings, acceptance of multiple existing realities and creating a non-threatening environment were crucial for dialogue to emerge. If not, debate will be the main mode of communication, adding to the frustrations already existing between the participants in the process.”

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

Professional activity approaching:

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

December 4-5, 2003
“Risk perception: science, public debate and policy making.” International conference at the Charlemagne Conference Centre, Brussels. Information:

Reporting on the love life of the bullfrog. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture heard loud criticism during the early 1930s for publishing a “worthless” bulletin popularly described as featuring the love life of the bullfrog. Wrong on two counts, replied a USDA communicator in a Public Opinion Quarterly article that we entered recently into the ACDC collection. First, the USDA did not publish any bulletin on frogs. Second, the research by a Cornell University scientist (“Frogs: their natural history and utilization”) held scientific interest and commercial importance.

For communicators, this article also provided a useful description of the various information services offered by the USDA at that time.

Reference: Use a title search (Information techniques) or author search (Harding) for the full citation.

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