ACDC News – Issue 04-01

How about parents suing snack food companies over obese children?  

The Health Pulse of America 2003 Survey raised that question among U.S. adults. “No,” said 84 percent of the respondents. Those respondents said they think parents should not be able to sue major snack food companies if they believe their child became obese from eating junk food and drinking soft drinks. They favored the government passing laws to prevent such lawsuits.

Reference: On the “Database Search” page of this ACDC web site, use a title search (Health Pulse of America 2003) for the full citation. Let us know if you are interested in the survey and do not have local access to it.

“Fish out of water”  

Is the title of a lively case report and commentary about environmental conflict, publicity methods and interest group lobbying in the Klamath River watershed near the California-Oregon border. The report detailed what author Sheldon Rampton described as “a fierce propaganda war that united government water agencies, wealthy farm interests, corporate-funded think tanks and far-right conspiracy theorists in a campaign whose stated objective was to ‘save farmers’ but whose actual purpose was to gut the Endangered Species Act.”

Reference: Use a title search (Fish out of water) or author search (Rampton) for the full citation. The report was posted online by the PR Watch organization:

International trends in the use of privatized extension  

We have added to the ACDC collection a summary of a recent e-mail discussion on privatized extension. The Agricultural Research and Extension Network of the Overseas Development Institute, London, hosted and summarized it. Discussion revealed a wide sampling of interpretations and uses of private extension delivery. Editors noted:

“A number of experiences in both industrialised and developing countries provide opportunities for examining the advantages and limitations of a privatisation strategy for extension.” Case examples ranged from purely market-based extension services to cost recovery options for public services and public programs that provide a partial subsidy for private extension providers.

Reference: Use a title search (Changing incentives) or author search (Chapman) for the full citation. The paper was posted online at:

To agronomists: address the schism between scientists and “”regular people.”  

Members of the American Society of Agronomy heard that challenge during their 2003 annual meeting from Margaret A. Davidson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An innovator in sustainable agriculture and coastal resource management, Davidson urged scientists to address the schism in various ways. Among them:

  • explore the role of science in society and their responsibility for science communication
  • focus on protecting resources through communications at the local level about the effects of lawn chemicals, for example, rather than on more research in areas such as modeling
  • create ties with their journalism departments and environmental journalism organizations
  • build a bank of ideas and cultivate media attention

Reference: Use a title search (Scientists must accept) or author search (Davidson) for the full citation. The news account was archived (December 3, 2003) on: agnet-archives

Growing gaps in Internet use among U.S. farmers.  

Large farm operators with more education are making the most applications of the Internet, according to research reported during 2003 by Timothy Park and Ashok Mishra.

“If the benefits of Internet are to be enjoyed more widely, this suggests that special efforts may be needed to target small farmers and less-educated farmers. Further, emphasis might need to be targeted more to smaller operators who are in the beginning stages of farming, producers who would like to learn more and become more proficient at examining marketing data and trends for commodities, or households that might not be operating a large farm but instead might be tracking off-farm investments.”

Reference: Use a title search (Internet usage by farmers) or author search (Park) for the full citation. The research paper was posted online at:

Agricultural journalists – too timid, too nice.  

Agricultural journalism is “better than it used to be, but journalists in the industry are still too timid and too nice, afraid to raise the questions that need to be asked.” Veteran agricultural writer Gene Logsdon offered that view at the 2003 Ag Publications Summit. He urged more “outcry against concentrated business and consolidation. We need to start writing about the dark side of what’s going on, but be sure to do it with some humor.”

Reference: On the “Database Search” page of this web site, use a title search (Challenges of ICTs) or author search (Girard) for the full citation. The presentation was posted on:

A case example during the workshop 

Described how a rural radio magazine in French language combines radio with a mix of other information technologies: e-mail, Internet telephone communication, FTP protocol file transfer, instant mailing, sharing of applications to access a remote computer and others. Content flows by Internet from rural correspondents in four African countries to coordination teams, then to about 100 African radio stations for broadcast. These technologies also permit online training of the broadcast journalists involved.

Reference: Use a title search (Stayin alive) or author search (Wall) for the full citation of this report highlighting Logsdon’s career and perspectives.

How news beat traditions may influence coverage of food biotechnology.  

Robert Logan observed in an Agbioforum article that some of the news media’s problems in covering agricultural biotechnology might be linked to structural organization and traditions within the nation’s newsrooms.

“Until very recently, neither the agricultural nor food beat radiated the traditions to cover science, the public policy overtones of environmental journalism, or the zeal to investigate public documents and databases that infuses investigative journalism.”

Logan offered several suggestions for media organizations.

Reference: Use a title search (Compartmentalization: implications for food) or author search (Logan) for the full citation. The article was posted online at:   v. 4 no. 3-4

Please let us know if you would rather not receive ACDC News  

As Year 2004 begins we want to tell you how much we appreciate your interest in this e-newsletter. We hope it is helpful, interesting and convenient for you. However, we do not want to send something to you that you would rather not receive. So at any time please let us know if you would like to be removed from the list. You can do so by contacting us here at the Documentation Center:

Other possible subscribers you might suggest?  Let us know of – or refer us to – associates or other persons you think might like to receive future issues of ACDC News through our free online mailings of it.

Professional activity approaching:

February 14-18, 2004
Agricultural Communications Section of Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

March 12-19, 2004
World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in South Africa. The Congress starts in the north (Mabalingwe Nature Reserve) and ends south in Cape Town.

Behold the roly-poly pig.  

We close this New Year 2004 issue of ACDC News with a piece of advice for communicators (and others) from an issue of Agricultural Advertising published 100 years ago:

Behold the roly-poly pig,
His sides all puffed with fat;
Unconscious that as he grows big,
There waits the rendering vat.

Then let me never swell with pride
Nor my hat-band increase,
Else like the pig I be at last
Reduced to plain soap grease.

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:

January 2004

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