ACDC News – Issue 07-19

What’s on the minds of science journalists, globally.

Agricultural and natural resource journalists may find special interest in 10 reports we have added to the ACDC collection. They were presented during the 5th World Congress of Science Journalists earlier this year in Melbourne, Australia.  These papers focus on improving science journalism, as related to various agricultural, rural and environmental issues:

  • “New media: podcasting, Second Life and the future of the Web”
  • “Building and maintaining science journalist associations”
  • “How to make a big story bigger”
  • “Biasing scientific information”
  • “Risky business – perception of risk”
  • “Spreading science through societies by reaching women and children”
  • “Reporting science in emerging economies”
  • “Seducing gatekeepers: getting more science past your editor”
  • “Water wars”
  • “Climate change and the spread of disease”

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See and hear international agricultural journalists meeting in Japan.

Several online resources will permit you to tune in on the recent 51st International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress in Japan.

An award-winning rural radio documentary.

During July the Society of Professional Journalists presented a Sigma Delta Chi Award to a rural-oriented radio program.  Todd Melby, Diane Richard and Robbie Harris of Chicago Public Radio were honored for their 29-minute documentary that highlighted disparities arising from a state tax policy in Illinois that disproportionately hurts rural school districts. The program, aired during 2006, reflected a five-month reporting effort that included an in-depth focus on challenges facing schools in two rural communities in downstate Illinois.

You can hear the program online at

Notice these qualities the judges emphasized: narrative-style writing, use of natural sound, dual-host format, diversity of voices and “an incredibly important – and difficult topic to cover.”

On the shortcomings of international reporting these days.

A new book by Kai Hafez takes international reporting to task, along several dimensions:

  • It is fundamentally national.  “Most of the time, international reporting in media systems across the world is produced for a domestic audience, not for the regions in question themselves. … What is being fostered is the exact opposite of a multicultural world.”
  • It “privileges” the actions of political actors and systems.
  • It “privileges” the elites or counter-elites “while social groups and movements, political parties and the population as a whole are marginalized.”
  • The “event-centered definition of the news” frequently leads to shortage of social, cultural, economic and political context.
  • “Even today, national media agendas are in synch with the world only in a very superficial way.”

Title:  The myth of media globalization

Helping birds communicate.

A recent article in Molecular Ecology highlighted the need to reduce noise levels that are degrading the breeding areas of birds.  Authors noted: “The dramatic increase in human activities all over the world has caused, on an evolutionary time scale, a sudden rise in especially low-pitched noise levels.”

Findings documented how ambient noise may be detrimental to birds in their efforts to communicate – to defend territories, attract mates, detect predators and hear alarm calls.

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Home broadband adoption and usage in rural areas continues to lag. 

Research earlier this year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that high-speed adoption in rural areas (now 31 percent) continues to lag that in urban centers (52 percent) and suburbs (49 percent).

Pew Internet researcher Aaron Smith observed that broadband adoption in rural America faces two challenges – network availability and demographics.  “Rural Americans tend to be older, less avid online users, and thus less interested in fast home connections.  And some parts of rural America also simply don’t have the infrastructure for providing broadband at home.”

Other findings showed that Internet usage in rural areas also trails the national average. Sixty percent of rural adults use the internet from any location, compared with the national average of 71 percent.

Report Title:  Home broadband adoption 2007
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News release title: Broadband adoption in 2007
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“Venezuela’s four-legged mobile libraries”

Is the title of a report from BBC Radio News.  It described how a university in Venezuela is using “bibliomulas” (book mules) to deliver reading materials to rural communities in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

“Somehow there is already a limited mobile phone signal here, so the organizers are taking advantage of that and equipping the mules with laptops and projectors. The mules are becoming cyber mules and cine mules.”

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Communicator activities approaching

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

November 13-14, 2007
“Capture, consolidate and communicate – the changing nature of contemporary extension.” National Forum of the Australasia Pacific Extension Network in Canberra, ACT, AUSTRALIA.

November 14-16, 2007
“A rural renaissance.”  Annual conference of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Strange messages about fishing.

We close this issue with some remarkable laws/customs about fishing in various U. S. states.  Thanks to Steve Shenton for alerting us to them. Do you suppose they are actually on the books?

  • It is against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season. (New Jersey)
  • You may not fish on a camel’s back (Idaho) or while sitting on a giraffe’s neck. (Illinois).
  • It is illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish. (Tennessee)
  • Those who fish in the Ohio River in Kentucky need an Indiana fishing license.

Enthusiasts, do you face such obstacles where you fish?
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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.

October 2007

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