ACDC News – Issue 05-17

I could write a book

 Is the title of a lively new one by Roy Reiman, viewed widely as the most innovatively successful rural-rooted publisher of our time. A subtitle summarizes his remarkable career path: “The behind-the-scenes story of Reiman Publications, a company that began in the basement, was built on ‘wild ideas’ and became a publishing empire that sold for $760 million.”

How can magazines survive – even prosper – without advertising?
Is it possible that readers can and will write most of the copy for a magazine?
Are they subscribers – or friends?
Can one of the nation’s largest publishers operate without organizational charts?
How does the “wince factor” work?

Readers will find a fascinating world of answers and ideas as the author shares his experiences in launching and developing (occasionally dropping) 15 magazines – from The Pepperette (1963) and Farm Wife News (1970) to Birds and Blooms (1995) and Cooking for 2 (2005).

Reference: I could write a book
Information: 1-800-558-1013

New Agricultural Media Study released.

We have added to the ACDC collection a summary of results of a 2004-2005 survey among a representative sample of U.S. producers. This printed summary was made available during a presentation at the recent Ag Media Summit in Wisconsin. Harris Interactive, Inc., conducted the survey for Agri-Council of American Business Media. Among the highlighted findings:

  • Ag media are as important as ever. “Most farmers and ranchers are using the same amount or more agricultural media than they did 3 or 4 years ago and expect to spend similar amounts of time in the next 3 to 4 years.”
  • “Farmers and ranchers use many sources of agricultural media and information, and most are used with a high degree of frequency.”
  • “Most respondents rely on ag media to help them make purchase decisions and the youngest among them indicate the greatest reliance.”
  • “…ag magazines or newspapers, ag newsletters, and ag dealers/retailers are among the most highly regarded sources, while telemarketers are the least highly regarded source of information.”
  • “The Internet is growing in importance as a source of information used by farmers and ranchers as majorities are online or plan to be in the future.”

Reference: Agricultural Media Study

Note: We are taking steps to get a copy of the full report for deposit in the ACDC collection.

Investing in agricultural information.

A study reported recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics examined use of market consultants and market information systems by 1,617 grain and cotton producers in four states. Results showed that 15 percent of the producers hired market consultants for an average of $411 a year. Thirty-seven percent of the producers bought market information systems/services for an average of $291 a year.

Reference: Target markets for grain and cotton marketing consultants

Effects of photographs about complex farming issues.

One-sided versus two-sided use of photographs came under study in a project reported in Media Psychology. Researchers found that one-sided use of photographs strongly influenced public perceptions about the economics of farming. Respondents viewed reports that featured either (a) no photograph, (b) a photograph exemplifying one side of the issue [rich farmers or poor farmers] or two photographs exemplifying both sides of the issue [rich farmers and poor farmers]. Researchers urged the balanced use of photographs for multifaceted issue reports.

Reference: Effects of photographs on news-magazine reports on issue perception

How physicians, nurse practitioners and dietitians feel about food biotechnology and genetic engineering.

Generally “positive” was the theme reported recently by a team of researchers in the Journal of Environmental Health. Results from their survey showed that physician respondents held more positive attitudes than nurse practitioners or registered dietitians. Physicians and nurse practitioners supported the use of genetic engineering to improve plant resistance to pests. Dietitians tended to support nutritional-improvement technology.

Reference: Health professionals hold positive attitudes

“When science and business clash, ethics must rule.” 

Jenny Luesby, editor-in-chief of Novis Group, opened a recent commentary with that advice to associates in the nutrition industry.

“The consumer is out there making decisions that balance benefits and risks often without sight of the risks: no wonder there is a sensation when a risk floats into public view. … We look, we assess, and we say what we think is useful: that is, we grossly simplify. But that demands everything from us ethically. It is simply not good enough – ever – to fall back on seeing only that which we want to see. To dismiss a study that may threaten our livelihood as ‘scientifically flawed,’ and therefore not TRUE, is a serious charge. And we must take it seriously. The burden of proof rests with us.”

Reference: The business of food safety
Posted at:

Communicator activities approaching

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.

October 22-26, 2005
Joint meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Agricultural journalism faculty position.

The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln seeks an agricultural journalism faculty member.

Freelance writer celebrating.

In closing, we pass along this piece of inspired writing from the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Sponsored by the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University, the contest is a “whimsical literary competition that challenges the entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” We found our featured entry by Lawrence Person listed under “Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions.”“Inside his cardboard box, Greg heated a dented can of Spaghetti-O’s over a small fire made from discarded newspapers, then cracked open his last can of shoplifted generic beer to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his embarkation on a career as a freelance writer.”Posted with other award winners 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

September, 2005

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