ACDC News – Issue 04-06

On “The Archers” – an enduring rural radio program  

Financial Times (London, England) article that we added recently to the ACDC collection featured Graham Harvey, agricultural counselor to ” The Archers.” It is “the country’s most-loved soap opera about life in the shires,” having aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) network since 1950.

Harvey shared his perspectives on the Archers and other featured families in a changing world – tenant farmers, organic farmers, corporate-minded farmers and others. His analysis also extended to reasons that prompt urban listeners to remain actively interested in rural people, conditions, issues and trends.

Reference: Use a title search (Field marshall) or author search (Smockum) for the full citation.

Does ACDC actually include literature about rural soap operas and such?  

You bet. In Britain, “The Archers” series (above) is a major channel for rural-urban understanding. And early this year we added the report of a member survey involving the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. The membership profile revealed a strong rural dimension and results of the survey by Bill Tedrick emphasized organizational communications and member decision making.

From our perspective, the recreational aspects of rural communicating can be as worthy as economic, operational and other aspects. Whenever you see such literature, please pass it along or alert us to it at

Reference: Use a title search (Spirit of friendly competition) or author search (Tedrick) for the full citation.

Coverage of development news “neither significant nor encouraging”  

That is how D.V.R. Murthy described results of a 1995 content analysis of four India newspapers. Development news accounted for only four to eight percent of the total number of news items published. Coverage of development news on the front page was negligible in all four newspapers.

Agriculture, health and transportation were main themes covered within that small sliver of the news hole.

Reference: Use a title search (Developmental journalism) or author search (Murthy) for the full citation.

Gardening — Fun? Drudgery?  

It seems that Americans consider gardening one of their favorite leisure-time activities. Results of Harris Polls between 1995 and 2001 consistently show gardening among the top five leisure-time activities mentioned, according to a report that we added recently. Other favorites include reading, TV watching, spending time with family/kids and fishing.

Reference: Use a title search (Reading, tv, spending time) or author search (Taylor) for the full citation. The document was posted online at

Beefs about USDA information management.  

A commentary published in the New York Times earlier this year examined how the U.S. Department of Agriculture is handling a “dual, often contradictory mandate:”

  • promote the sale of meat on behalf of American producers
  • guarantee that American meat is safe on behalf of consumers

Commentator Eric Schlosser expressed concerns about the Department’s promotion- and industry-oriented emphasis in its public information about Mad Cow disease discovered in the U.S. Other concerns involved disease testing policies, meat recall powers and the role of lobbying interests.

Reference: Use a title search (Cow jumped over) or author search (Schlosser) for the full citation.

When you want to involve local influential groups 

In your communicating, here are key principles for doing so. Thanks to John Woods, education/communication specialist of Chemonics International, for providing a paper that described guidelines for enlisting the support of such groups in a nutrition education program. The 10 guidelines apply well beyond that specific program:

  • Start with only one group
  • Think like each group thinks
  • Groups must be adopters themselves
  • Tailor the package to fit their needs and interests
  • Do not give them too much information at once
  • Emphasize the advantages to them in becoming involved
  • Serve them in a “helping role”
  • Follow up with them
  • Learn from them
  • Give them recognition

Reference: Use a title search (Basic recommendations for motivating) or author search (Woods) for the full citation.

A “rambling mess of scientists arguing and contradicting each other”  

That is how Deborah Blum recently described investigative science reporting that lacks focus. “People call this the he said, she said phenomenon or sometimes the talking heads dilemma,” Blum continued in her book chapter, “Reporting on the changing science of human behavior.”

“No one is going to read 4 days of stories that end up with one enormous ‘Huh?’ There needs to be a flow and a direction to a series, a point of view. I organize my stories around viewpoint; it helps me select the topics I am going to cover and how I am going to present them.”

Reference: Use a title search (Reporting on the changing science) or author search (Blum) for the full citation.

Agricultural attachés becoming communications specialists  

An article in AgExporter featured U.S. agriculture’s eyes and ears abroad – the agricultural attachés of the Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reporter Linda Habenstreit described what they do, what they have accomplished since their inception in 1919 and what lies ahead for them.

Thomas Hamby, former agricultural minister-counselor was quoted as observing: “I see attachés evolving from nuts and bolts agricultural technicians to communications and public relations specialists, who must understand and confidently represent U.S. agricultural interests abroad.”

Reference: Use a title search (FAS attachés) or author search (Habenstreit) for the full citation. The article was posted

Sorting through — a cautionary note for communicators.

“Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
(T.S. Eliot in Two Choruses from the Rock)

Communicator activities approaching:

April 14-16, 2004
“Make Your Mark.” 2004 Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show in Kansas City, Missouri.

April 30-May 1, 2004
Annual meeting of Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) in Seattle, Washington.

May 24-27, 2004
“Education and Extension for Multi-Function Agriculture.” Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education in Dublin, Ireland.

Best regards and good searching.  

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions 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:

March 2004

Updated on