ACDC News – Issue 05-14

30 years of national rural television.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the nationally syndicated weekly television program, “U. S. Farm Report.” Farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson of WGN Continental, Chicago, Illinois, hosted the first program in this durably popular series during the week of July 14, 1975.

An introductory news release (part of the ACDC collection) explained:

“The half-hour series…will offer viewers across the land a total information service about the United States ‘ most important and timely business, Agribusiness.”

Reference: WGN Continental Productions to produce “U. S. Farm Report”

False assumptions about participatory approaches.

In a recent book, Shirley White acknowledged that participatory approaches to rural and other development projects are expected to result in more active citizens. Such approaches also are expected to make citizens more responsible for their own futures and more capable of achieving goals and maintaining courses of action and direction. However, she argued, four misconceptions can make such assumptions false. The “myths” she identified:

  • Development facilitators are capable of promoting meaningful participation among local people.
  • Local people will automatically wish to become involved.
  • Results of capacity building, through participation, are always positive.
  • Participatory approaches will cure all development ills.

Her discussion about involving people in participatory processes addressed these challenges, which seem to apply in any social setting.

Reference: Involving people in a participatory process

Hesitating to speak out about biotechnology.

A “spiral of silence” regarding this subject seems at work within the U. S. public, according to research by Susanna Hornig Priest and associates. Spiral of silence theory suggests that those who see themselves in a minority hesitate to make their views publicly known in fear of isolation, criticism or other social consequences. Responses to a 2002-2003 U.S. survey revealed that religious and environmentalist voices tended to be quieted, especially in comparison to voices that make explicit reference to science, or to its use or effects.

“The social power of scientific rhetoric in U.S. culture undoubtedly gives special weight to those arguing from a scientific point of view and a sense of confidence to those who feel they understand the science. Conversely, those who frame their arguments in terms of the inherent wrongness (or foolishness) of altering the biological world…may be less outspoken. These dynamics, along with university and industry domination of news accounts in the early years, help explain why dissent over biotechnology in the U.S. appeared to be lower – and more different from levels of dissent in much of Europe – than it actually was.”

Reference: Public discourse and scientific controversy
Posted at:

Recent trends in rural broadband access.

Rural access to broadband Internet service in Nebraska USA grew to 57 percent in early 2005, according to a survey by the Nebraska Information Network. That is up 15 percent from early 2004.

An article we added recently to the ACDC collection reported that 82 privately owned telecommunications companies in Nebraska now provide local loop broadband access transport. The types of transport provided, in decreasing order, are: DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop) on fiber and/or copper, wireless, cable modems and fiber to the (home) premises.

Reference: Broadband coverage in Nebraska 
Posted at:

Ag communications education – ahead of the convergence curve.

“Media companies are fast realizing the value of cross training,” Reggie Borges reported in a recent issue of Presstime. This report, added recently to the ACDC collection, noted how media convergence is calling for reporters to be adept in print journalism, on-air broadcasting, photography and other media skills.

Digital aspects may be relatively recent, but education in such a mixture of media skills sounds familiar to many agricultural journalism and agricultural communications students in North America. For years, their curricula have incorporated media “cross training” – long before the concept became popular.

Reference: Cross-training for convergence.

On that note,

Congratulations to communications educators and students at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) recently received the communications award in the first Agri-Food Innovation Awards program that recognizes outstanding contributions made by Canadian innovators.

“Developed in 1989 by Owen Roberts, director of research communications at U of G, SPARK is hailed as a model for teaching students how to effectively transfer science-based agri-food and health knowledge to targeted audiences including media, consumers, farmers, agri-business and the research community, and to enhance students’ future employability.”

Reference: U of G earns awards for agri-food innovation.
Posted at:

Predicting revisions to cattle on feed reports. 

On average, market analysts do not correctly anticipate them, according to recent findings reported in Agribusiness journal. Researchers Jeffrey Mills and Ted Schroeder examined this matter, citing cattle on feed (COF) reports as “the most important source of cattle supply information for the beef industry.”

They found no evidence that users of these reports should be concerned about bias in the revisions. However, “if analysts’ prerelease estimates are different from the initial COF report, this does not signal any useful information about future probable COF revisions.”

Reference: Are cattle on feed report revisions random and does industry anticipate them?

Not exactly what they meant. 

Some risks of trying to communicate across cultures about food and drink products appeared in a recent book, Brand Failures. You may be interested in some of the translation problems that author Matt Haig identified:
  • In Italy, a campaign for “Schweppes Tonic Water” fell flat when consumers translated the product as “Schweppes Toilet Water.”
  • KFC’s slogan, “finger-lickin’ good,” came out as “eat your fingers off” when translated into Chinese for the Hong Kong market.
  • Frank Perdue’s poultry campaign created confusion in Spain when the line, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated as “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”
  • Pepsi’s advertising slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” came across in Taiwan as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

Apart from revealing some cultural quicksand, Haig’s collection of “the 100 biggest brand mistakes of all time” involved nearly 20 food and drink brands.

Reference: Brand failures

Communicator activities approaching

August 31 – September 4, 2005
“The New Role of Agriculture.” 49th Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Thun (near Berne), Switzerland.

October 1, 2005
Deadline for papers to be considered for presentation in the Agricultural
Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural
Scientists (SAAS) conference in Orlando, Florida USA , February 2006.

When you see interesting items you can’t find online or locally 

Get in touch with us at Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions, and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our assistance as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin AAvenue, Urbana, IL 61801 ) or electronic form at

July, 2005

Updated on