ACDC News – Issue 05-15

Embrace science, but do it carefully.

That advice about “linking science to paddocks” came from a scientist who spoke at a communications session of the National Landcare Facilitator Community Conference in Victoria, Australia, during March.

“We can become so isolated in our ivory towers and hide behind our specialist languages. But we need you to keep our science on track – focused on real problems,” said David Freudenberger. “Any of us can see a patch of dead trees in a low lying part of a paddock. But it takes multiple minds and eyes to fully perceive or understand why the trees are dead.” Sample minds and eyes he cited: farmer, ecologist, hydrogeologist, resource economist and local facilitator.

Reference: Science – a certain way of knowing
Posted at:

Learning to clap with two hands.

Freudenberger’s observation above reminds us of another image for creating effective interaction between local knowledge and agricultural science and extension.

“Rural development in Africa has been constrained because the people who regarded themselves as the ‘developers’ were clapping with one hand,” said O. T. Kibwana and associates in the Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension. Authors described positive experience with a “participatory technology development” approach used in Ethiopia and Tanzania. It begins “not with problem analysis but rather by linking up with local problem-solving initiatives.”

Reference: Clapping with two hands
Posted at:

Rural weeklies used fewer information sources.

Researcher John Hatcher found a relationship between the number of sources used in weekly newspapers and the diversity of the communities in which they circulate. His content analysis involved 40 issues of 10 weekly newspapers in New York State communities of varied racial diversity.

He found a positive correlation. “A newspaper serving one of the boroughs of New York, for example, was found to use more than 193 sources over the course of four editions, compared with as few as 23 in four editions of a paper that served a more rural community,” he reported. He called for more research focused on a disparity between the resources that exist at community newspapers serving rural and metropolitan areas.

Reference: Ordinary people and the weekly newspaper
Posted at:

Nutrition reporters want more training.

An article we have added from Journalism and Mass Communication Educator highlighted an ironic situation. On one hand, content analyses show that food, nutrition and health issues are increasingly popular in media. On the other hand, research suggests that only about one-third of the reporters who cover those issues feel confident in doing so. Author Jeffrey Hampl called for cross-disciplinary approaches – combining journalism education with health-related education.

Do we hear a familiar ring in this call? Curricula in agricultural journalism and communications offer a long-time, successful model for cross-disciplinary journalism education. Hampl’s call points to opportunities for new cross-disciplinary curricula and options – programs that innovatively cross education in journalism and communications with education in foods, human nutrition and health.

Reference: Conflicts of interest and hyperbole: nutrition in the media

An agricultural publisher helped envision journalism education in the U.S.

He was Norman J. Colman, publisher of Colman’s Rural World (in existence today as Missouri Ruralist). Historical analysis led Stephen Banning to observe in a monograph we added to the ACDC collection: “The concept of professional journalistic education did not begin with Joseph Pulitzer as some traditional histories assert.” Instead, recent evidence indicates that members of the Missouri Press Association pursued the concept of school-based journalism education as early as 1869.

Colman, an officer of the Association in 1868, “specifically cited the need for [journalism] education as part of the pattern set up by the classical professions.” He later served as the first Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.Reference: The cradle of professional journalistic education.
Posted at:

Ethical issues in communicating about food and agriculture.

The seventh edition (2005) of Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning includes examples of ethical issues in communicating about food and agriculture. Among the cases and topics:

  • An aborted newspaper exposé of Chiquita Brands International.
  • The Alar apple scare.
  • Risk reporting about food irradiation, growth hormones in dairy cattle, genetically modified food, and mad cow disease.
  • Direct-to-consumer advertising of nutrition and health products.
  • Syringe-in-Pepsi-can episode

Communicators and educators may find these cases useful in professional improvement sessions, class discussions and other settings.

Reference: Media ethics: cases and moral reasoning

Thanks and best wishes go to John Sanders

Graduate assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center during the past year. John received his master’s degree in library and information science here at the University of Illinois during May and completes his assistantship in the Center this month. As part of the ACDC team he strengthened the database management system, helped expand use of direct links in citations and ACDC News, helped position us for more digital archiving and sharing of documents, helped the collection grow and served in other ways. We wish him the best in his career ahead.

Communicator activities approaching

September 7-10, 2005
Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in San Francisco, California.
Information: http://www.afjonline.comSeptember 8-10, 2005
48th annual workshop of the National Market News Association in Atlanta, Georgia.

September 22-24, 2005
50th-anniversary meeting of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

September 28- October 2, 2005
Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Austin, Texas.

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, February 2006.

Reach out and touch a chicken (online).

A news item added recently to the ACDC collection reports on a new Internet device created by researchers at the National University of Singapore. According to Wired News, the Touchy Internet system “connects users to a real chicken via a chicken-shaped doll, computer sensors and a Webcam link.” When a user “pets” from afar the live bird (wearing a lightweight jacket) feels the touch in the same place stroked. The item offered no explanation of what happens if the chicken prefers not to be touched.Reference: New Internet tool encourages users to reach out
Archived June 9, 2005 at:

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 Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801 ) or electronic form at

 August, 2005

Updated on