ACDC News – Issue 07-10

A dozen agricultural information issues challenging agricultural journalists now.

That title introduced a feature article we prepared last month for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).  The 12 professional issues caught our attention through documents we are adding to the ACDC collection. All have global features and apply across national boundaries.

You can identify these issues and view sample documents in the article posted on the IFAJ web site.  Notice how some important agricultural information issues may operate beneath the surface of the day-to-day topics we address, skills we apply and tools we use.

Title:  A dozen agricultural information issues
Posted at:

U.S. news media “apathetic” and “clueless” about rural life and issues.

Network television coverage of rural issues and perspectives dropped 23 percent between 2002 and 2004, according to an analysis of press coverage during that period of presidential election campaigning. The Center for Media and Public Affairs identified the decline during an examination of 529 broadcast and print stories.

“Much of the press is apathetic toward America’s heartland and clueless about the rural way of life,” reported the Washington Times in summarizing the study.  Newspapers and magazines carried more rural-themed stories during 2004 than during 2002.  However, farming and farm legislation “barely registered on media radar. …Instead, coverage was fixated on urban sprawl and zoning issues.”

Title:  Press willfully ignorant of U. S. rural life
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You can also hear a six-minute interview about findings of this study. National Public Radio aired the segment during April 2005:

The future of farm e-commerce:  nearing a tipping point? 

A 2006 article in the Journal of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers examined factors that influence how farm markets form on the Internet.  It also identified some Internet sites U. S. farmers are using for e-commerce transactions.  Author Marvin Batte observed that the number of such farmers is small, but growing.

“We may be nearing a tipping point, where there is an avalanche both of farmers and farm merchants using the market and small firms offering support services.”

Title:  Shopping at the farm office
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An irreverent view of media convergence.

“No matter how closely and carefully I look at His Royal Convergence Highness, I still get the impression that his clothing leaves something to be desired.”  Douglas Starr, professor of agricultural journalism at Texas A&M University, introduced his article in the Convergence Newsletter with that observation.  He then proceeded to “de-clothe” His Highness.

  • “In the first place, the only things about convergence that are new are some terms and the fact that duties once the prerogative of the News Editor and the Photographer and techniques used in newspapers and magazines now are relegated to the News Reporter.”
  • “Then, of course, the News Reporter writes the broadcast version of the story and prepares the Teleprompter version.  What a salary today’s News Reporter must draw.”
  • “It all seems to me that the new equipment is just that, new equipment.  When Gutenberg developed movable type, nobody called for new ways to write.”
  • “Framing, which has terribly undesirable connotations, is a bugaboo tacked onto news stories, as though the News Reporter has time to decide in what frame the story will be cast.”

The Convergence Newsletter editor invited comments from readers, including those accustomed to cheerleading for convergence.  “Perhaps, as Douglas Starr…hints below, convergence will continue to be old-hat, simply the process of renaming old concepts and job titles that have been in the profession for years.”

Title:  A dispatch from the convergence trenches
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Farmers not farmers any more.

“I’m not sure those farmers of the future are going to call themselves farmers,” Gail Keck observed in a recent issue of Prairie Farmer.

“As farming becomes more specialized, people who work in agriculture seem to want job titles that reflect their expertise or describe their duties,” she said.  She said she has business cards from farmers with titles such as:

  • Grain marketing specialist
  • GPS data manager
  • Herdsman
  • Machinery maintenance and operations supervisor

“Many commodity organizations have even abandoned the word.  They’re nearly all ‘producers’ or ‘growers’.”  Keck wonders why the title “farmer” doesn’t seem sufficiently professional.

Title:    Where have all the real farmers gone?

Communicator activities approaching

June 15-19, 2007
“A double creature feature.”  ACE/NETC joint conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) and the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

June 21-23, 2007
“Fiesta del Caballo.”  Seminar of American Horse Publications (AHP) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

July 2-5, 2007
“Environmental and rural sustainability through ICT.”  Joint conference of the European Federation of IT [Information Technology] in Agriculture (EFITA) and the World Congress on Computers in Agriculture (WCCA) at Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland.

July 28-August 1, 2007
“Writing, photography, design: the AMS trifecta.”  Agricultural Media Summit in Louisville, Kentucky.  Organized jointly by American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Agri Council of American Business Media (ABM), Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) and Livestock Publications Council (LPC).

Ahh, the warm-season fun.

We close this issue of ACDC News with several more computer terms we have seen roaming the Web with a touch of rural flavor.  These feature some hot-weather pleasures and hospitalities:

Modem: What you did to the hay fields
Software:  Those darned plastic forks and knives at picnics
Micro chip:  What’s in the bottom of the munchie bag

Do you have thoughts, examples or suggestions related to any topics featured in this issue? 

Please send them to us by return e-note.
Get in touch with us:

  • When you cannot locate information you need about agricultural and rural communicating.
  • When you see in this collection interesting items you cannot find, locally or online. Tell us the titles and/or document numbers.  We will help you gain access.

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

Best regards and good searching.

May 2007

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