ACDC News – Issue 06-14

Here come rural stereotypes – by parachute journalism.

Recently we added to the ACDC collection a commentary about “parachute journalism.” This practice involves dispatching globe-trotting reporters and camera crews to cover the latest breaking news. Commentator Marjie Lundstrom examined the “damage wrought by regional stereotypes” and included instances of press crew forays into rural areas.

One example cited evidence of stereotyped coverage of political campaigning in the Iowa caucuses. “Iowa ‘s urban dwellers may wield the political clout in this state, but what readers and viewers generally get is a steady diet of cornfields, barns and hogs.”

Title: Parachute journalism
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Mass media helping to build peace in times of rural conflict.

A recent addition to the ACDC collection featured examples of the humanitarian role of mass media in conflict. One case study involved a conflict between crop growers and herders in a region of Mali. A drought prompted herders to drive their animals across growers’ fields before crops had been harvested. Radio Duwanza staff members analyzed this conflict, then initiated a campaign that helped ease it. They:

  • Aired public service announcements reminding listeners of their traditional collaboration and advised restraint.
  • Reported incidents promptly to help keep conflicts from mushrooming.
  • Encouraged crop growers to use radio to inform listeners when the growers would be finished harvesting particular fields.

“What emerges here is the importance of the radio journalist’s local knowledge,” observed author Gordon Adams. “A key to a successful media intervention in conflict is understanding the complexities of the situation.” Such guidelines and potentials in occasions of conflict would seem relevant in any region or news medium.

Title: The humanitarian role of mass media in conflict
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The U.S. Extension Service’s “gendered vision of modern agriculture.” 

A thought-provoking analysis in Women’s Studies focused on “a cultural battle waged in the 1930s and 1940s over the future of rural America and its women folk.” On one level, researcher Margot Canaday analyzed the development, impact and demise of a rural women’s radio program, “We Say What We Think.” On another level, she examined a much broader issue.

“The Extension Service promoted the development of a mechanized, scientific, and capital-intensive agriculture,” she reported. However, it “faced an obstacle in the interdependent rural community, because farmers who were connected to their neighbors were unlikely to adopt the capital-intensive practices that inevitably pushed some farmers off the land. For modern agriculture to take hold, the ties that bound rural communities had to be severed.” From this perspective, she observed, women’s organizational skills made rural communities strong and threatened the Extension agenda for change in the countryside.

“In response, the Extension Service promoted domesticity to isolate women within the home, discourage women’s community-based political involvement, and thereby weaken the overall structure of the rural community. … Further, the discipline of Rural Sociology, a key ally for rural communities, was marginalized or co-opted within the academy.”

Title: We say what we think

They all learn the same … don’t they? 

Not really, according to Mandi McLeod after analyzing the preferred learning styles of dairy farmers in New Zealand {NZ}.

“NZ dairy farmers can be segmented on the basis of their different learning style preferences and gender and/or position in the industry.”

Title: They all learn the same
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Thoughts about embedding agricultural journalists.

We appreciate these thoughts in response to the recent article in ACDC News, “Embed journalists everywhere”:

“That, in my opinion, was the power of agricultural journalism in supporting the spread of science and technology in farming in the mid-20th century. Most of us had been embedded in the farming culture since birth. One difference might be that we were embedded in the culture rather than coming in embedded in the ‘occupying troops.’ But that was back then.”
Bob Kern, emeritus faculty member, Iowa State University

“There’s the concept of embedding. To me the concept implies ‘in bed with’ and the risk implies journalists are too close to the spheres {to use your term} they’re covering. On the potential side, embedding also produces striking reports of some touching examples of the Iraqi war, such as those dealing with hospital treatment of amputees and severe wounds. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Gary Reynolds, former editor, Prairie Farmer


Tempered excitement about ICTs in rural development.

The following headline of a 2005 article in the Journal of the Community Development Society catches your eye: “Do information communication technologies {ICTs} promote rural economic development?” You read the experiences of five U.S. rural communities that deployed ICT programs, then a wrap-up by researchers Kenneth E. Pigg and Laura D. Crank:

“… there is little evidence that telecommunications leads to economic growth or that businesses in the communities are using ICTs extensively.” Instead, “… the physical deployment of the hardware is not sufficient to achieve success.”

Title: Do information communication technologies promote rural economic development?

Communicator activities approaching

September 13-16, 2006
Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Charlotte, North Carolina.

September 14-17, 2006
Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Winnipeg, Canada.

October 1, 2006
Deadline for research or professional papers to be submitted to the Agricultural Communications section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists, which meets February 3-7, 2007, in Mobile, Alabama.
Information {E-mail}:

October 8-11, 2006
“Delivering information for the new life sciences.” Conference of the U.S. Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

October 12-13, 2006
“Newspapers and community-building.” Twelfth annual symposium co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

October 25-27, 2006
World Congress on Communication for Development in Rome, Italy. Organized by the Development Communication Division, World Bank; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; and The Communication Initiative.

I like pigs.

Closing with this classic rural insight from Winston Churchill, we nod in sure agreement and remember pigs we have liked:

“I like pigs.
Dogs look up to us.
Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals.”

Best regards and good searching.

Let us know when you identify interesting items you cannot find, locally or online. Reach us at Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communication 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, 2006


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