ACDC News – Issue 06-16

Sparks out of the plowed ground.

That title identifies the most ground-based book we have read about radio in the communities of rural America. Author Bob Doll, long-time publisher of the Small Market Radio Newsletter, brought 45 years of experience to this effort. Using statistics, dozens of station case reports and other sources, he:

  • Tracked the history of small-town radio – from unauthorized “Station BOB” in 1919 through a 1995 survey among owners about the future of their stations.
  • Analyzed trends and forces such as changing program formats, automation, regulation, emergence of FM, consolidation, and social and economic factors.
  • Identified elements of success and failure in small-market radio broadcasting.

Title: Sparks out of the plowed ground.

The difference between journalists and communicators for development.

Luis Ramiro Beltrán, a former journalist and pioneering development communicator in Latin America, recently described it this way:

“The main difference … is that the latter understand communication mainly as a tool for enhancing people’s education for the betterment of their lives. The main thrust of journalists is news, whereas the development communicator struggles for a change in behaviour, so people can succeed in overcoming underdevelopment, injustice and authoritarianism.”

Title: Interview with Luis Ramiro Beltrán 
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Welcome, Sara. 

We are delighted to introduce Sara Thompson as new graduate assistant and coordinator in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Sara’s experiences and interests will help her contribute in special ways to the mission of this Center.

  • She brings seven years of work experience in academic libraries as she enters the University of Illinois graduate program in library and information science.
  • An honors graduate of Eastern Oregon University, she joins us from the Oregon State University Valley Library, where she coordinated branch and distance education services. She also served as liaison to a lending and borrowing alliance of 30 academic libraries in Oregon and Washington.
  • Her earlier experience at Eastern Oregon University included a project that involved 70 rural libraries.
  • She studied abroad in Germany and has taken two years or more of coursework each in German, Spanish and French.

Thanks to another helpful collaborator.

We are grateful to an associate in Sudan who has alerted us to – and provided – some useful, timely documents. Thanks to Rafaa Ashamallah Ghobrial, Head of Information Services and Systems in the Documentation and Information Centre, Khartoum. A couple examples:

” Towards an agricultural information network in Sudan 
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” Sudan agricultural information management system: challenges and opportunities”

Cautions about biases reflected in words we use.

Sometimes we are struck by the submerged messages and meanings in materials we read. The following examples from rural development documents reflect mindsets about producers and what they know:

  • “Farmers and experts talk about teleconferencing”
    (Who are seen as holding the knowledge of most value in this exchange?)
  • “Peasant expertise and formal science”
    (Which dimension of this duo is implied as most credible?)
  • “Farm scientists communicate to farmers”
    (How much dialogue and sharing of insights is implied here?)
  • “Traditional knowledge”
    (Sometimes used in ways that treat it as second-class knowledge, “fixed, mummified, and unfit for modern times”)

And submerged meanings in the biotech debate. 

Along the same line, Guy Cook, professor of applied linguistics at the University of Reading, England, has analyzed discourse surrounding the international debate about agricultural biotechnology. His book is entitled:

Genetically modified language: the discourse of arguments for GM crops and food

Communicator activities approaching

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 meeting February 3-7, 2007, in Mobile, Alabama.

October 8-11, 2006
“Delivering information for the new life sciences.” U.S. Agricultural Information Network conference 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.

Communicating when times turn dry and desperate. 

We close this issue of ACDC News with a few tales of life in rural America during the depression and drought years of the 1930s. These examples come from the Wessels Living History Farm, York, Nebraska.

  • Kansas farmers had to pay taxes in Texas because that was where their farms had blown.
  • Fish swam up stream and left a cloud of dust behind them.
  • One dust storm was so thick that a salesman saw a prairie dog 20 feet above ground digging frantically to get back to earth.
  • It got so hot that hens were laying hard boiled eggs.

Writer Bill Ganzel noted in presenting these examples:

“As Nebraska folklorist Roger Welsch has written, ‘Nowhere are water and life more appreciated than where they are a gift, not an assumption.’ When the gift doesn’t arrive, we turn to humor, ‘jokes that are not meant to bring forth laughter but give a common ground for the sufferers, jokes that blur the pain and sharpen the hope’.”


Please get in touch with us when you see in this collection 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.

Best regards and good searching. 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 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 2006

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