ACDC News – Issue 07-17

National honor for rural reporting.

Coverage of shock in a rural Amish community of Pennsylvania received top honors recently in the Sigma Delta Chi Awards Program that recognized outstanding reporting during 2006. Staff members of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper were honored in the category, “Deadline reporting – circulation of 100,000 or greater.”

Their story was entitled “A world apart, shattered.”  One judge commented that the story stood out for two reasons: “When an ordinary man, a father of three, snapped and killed three little girls, plus himself…the Inquirer not only had to negotiate a rural community not exactly in its backyard, but an Amish community with no zeal or desire of any kind to stand in the spotlight.”

Title: A world apart, shattered.

You can read the story online at:  Proceed to the Archives and search on the title.  Notice these reporting qualities the judges commended: swarm coverage in a crisis mode, excellent photography and sensitivity to the values of local residents.

Four key food trends that apply to humans (and pets).

Uli Pesi, market researcher and consultant in Germany, emphasized these trends in his chapter of a new book, Nutritional biotechnology in the feed and food industries:

  • Convenience – simple solutions that save time.
  • Examples: ready-to-eat/ready-to-heat meals, chilled salads, frozen pizzas, easy-to open packaging, prepared pet food.
    • Enjoyment – stressed people tending to reward themselves.
  • Examples: variety; new sensations, tastes, colors, shapes and textures; cross-over or fusion foods that combine taste experiences from different regions of the world; premium pet food brands.
    • Health – balancing busy schedules and longer living.
  • Examples: health foods, portion control, foods matched to life stages and lifestyles.
    • Origin labeling – an emerging trend in counter-reaction to globalization.
  • Examples: regional foods and cuisines that are otherwise becoming scarce, foods without chemical additives needed for long-term preservation, ethnic foods.

Pesi suggested that marketers should make sure the foods they develop meet a useful and meaningful combination of such trends – at least one trend, preferably more.

Title: Convenience, enjoyment and health

Call for more media coverage about safety in eating fish.

Results of research among fishermen, biology students and university educators prompted authors of an article in Risk: health, safety and environment to call for more public information.  Researchers found, for example, limited awareness about:

  • Whether specific fish come from fresh or salt water
  • Whether a given fish species is a predator or merely eats vegetation
  • Fishing regulations, bans and advisories that may exist in a given area

“One important method of managing risk to the public from eating contaminated fish is for the media to provide more ecological information so that the public can be aware of factors that contribute to increased toxic loads in fish in general.”

Title:  Fish advisories: useful or difficult to interpret?

Increased public funding for agricultural research and extension

Is critical to the future competitiveness of U. S. agriculture in a global economy, according to a recent issue report from the Farm Foundation.  It noted a disturbing slowdown in U. S. agricultural productivity growth in the last decade of the 20th century.  A declining rate of growth in public-sector investment in agricultural research and extension is cited as a likely contributor to this slowdown.

Stakeholders pointed to several special needs for effective communications:

  • Coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, public institutions and private businesses.
  • Education and outreach needed to move knowledge from the lab to the field.
  • A next generation of educators with expertise in agricultural production.
  • Helping consumers, special interest groups and policy makers understand the value of investment in agricultural research and extension.

Title:  Funding research and extension
Posted at:

Pure, simple birds-eye beauty in the rural landscape.

We have added to the ACDC collection an arresting multi-media report presented recently on National Public Radio.  Rural affairs reporter Howard Berkes used photographs, sound and print copy to help reveal the nature photography of Arizona physician Michael Collier.  Shooting from his single-engine Cessna, Collier “spends every other week combining geology, photography and aeronautics, in a three-decade quest to tell the earth’s ‘stories’ with aerial images.”

Title:  Photographer shoots from his Cessna

You can read this report and view a narrated slide program about 3 minutes in length at:

New associate in the Center.

It is a special pleasure to welcome Anna Pederson as new graduate assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center.  She will work half-time at the Center as she pursues a graduate degree in library and information science.

Anna brings an excellent combination of skills and experiences to the Center. A 2007 honors graduate in English from the University of Maine, she has five years of experience working in academic and public libraries. She also has gained experience with online databases, search tools, scholarly resources and digital libraries through projects with her English professors.  Service as a peer tutor in the Writing Center of the University has helped develop her teaching skills.  Anna speaks, reads and writes German – and looks forward to strengthening that important dimension of our collection and information services.

Communicator activities approaching

September 17-23, 2007
51st World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Tokyo and elsewhere, Japan.  Information:

September 27-28, 2007
13th Annual Newspapers and Community-building Symposium co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia USA.

September 27-30, 2007
“Taste the future.” Annual Conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Belleville, Ontario.  Information:

October 19-20, 2007
“2007 Science in Society.”  Annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers in Spokane, Washington USA.

Philosophy from an early trail boss. 

Are you still open to a cowhand theme?  In that hope, we close this issue of ACDC News with a piece of philosophy attributed to Ab (Albert Pickens) Blocker, a famous trail boss of the late 1800s:

We come into this world all naked and bare;
We go out of this world we know not where.
But if we have been good fellows here,
We need not fear what will be there.

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 communications, as related to agriculture, food, natural resources and rural affairs in any part of the world.
  • 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.

September 2007

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