ACDC News – Issue 99-03

Prof. Claron Burnett contributes documents.

Special thanks go this month to Claron Burnett, professor emeritus of agricultural journalism, University of Wisconsin USA. Professor Burnett is co-author of several widely used references, including Agricultural News Writing and Writing for Agriculture: A New Approach Using Tested Ideas.  He recently contributed 10 of his documents (published 1957-1990) that were missing from our collection.  Examples of his recent contributions:

  • “Differential knowledge gain among Wisconsin dairymen”
  • “Highlights of agricultural writing,” a paper tracing the development of agricultural writing in the United States.
  • Leader guides and member manuals for a popular four-unit 4-H photography series.
  • Instructional Improvement Handbook for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 New reference on science writing.

An attractive new 75-page teaching reference, Exploring Science Writing: An Environmental Focus,” came off the press in December. It is published by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Michigan Sea Grant programs and co-edited by Nancy Riggs of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Peggy Britt of the University of Michigan.

The purpose of the reference is to “introduce students to writing for the lay public about a few of the many public issues that affect the ecosystems in which we live.” Chapter 1 introduces readers to science writing techniques. Four following chapters offer writing samples and assignments about environmental topics such as water quality, exotic species, fishery problems and coastal economic development. Contact: Nancy Riggs at

Familiar advice from media.

Not much has changed in 28 years.  Science information still isn’t getting the coverage some feel it deserves.  Arthur J. Snider, science editor of the Chicago News, addressed this issue in 1971 at the National Seminar on Agricultural Science Communications.  His topic: “How the media make decisions regarding science information.”

The same intrinsic qualities that made news in 1971 make news today.  As Snider stated, science information is no exception.  His reasons for lack of media acceptance also sound familiar.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Space is limited and science news gets no special privileges from media gatekeepers who demand some element of applied
  2. Scientific jargon deadens reader interest, however sacred it may seem to scientists.
  3. Citizens “will not subject themselves to an effort to understand science simply as a bugle cry to duty.”

For more information about media use of science information, contact us at the Center or search the database.  Use subject terms such as “scientific communication” or “writing skills.”   (by Laura Cheline)

 Sample requests for assistance.

  •  During recent weeks a university faculty member invited help from the Center in getting access to documents about courses and curricula in agricultural journalism and agricultural communications.  Documents of interest also involved trends in agricultural communications and education, internationally.  We were able to make photocopies and forward them.
  • A student working on a history project asked for information about the impact of farm broadcasting during the early years of radio.

 Public attitudes about ethanol for fuel. 

Here’s a new survey report in the Center that sketches attitudes of U.S. citizens toward the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol.  Findings are based on 1,003 telephone interviews conducted during September 1998.

“America speaks out on energy: foreign oil dependency.”  Published by the Sustainable Energy Coalition, Takoma Park, Maryland.  October 1998.  101pp

Tracking farmer adoption of information technologies.

A recent national survey among more than 2,300 U.S. corn growers helps track their growing use of new technologies.  The survey, conducted by Novartis Seeds, Inc., reveals the extent to which growers were using GPS mapping systems, yield monitors on combines, personal computers and the internet for agricultural information during 1998.   Results of a similar survey conducted during 1997 show trends in adoption.  If you are interested in the results, inquire about:

“Summary of Novartis Seeds Farm Technology Survey Findings”

 Professional meetings approaching.

Here are the approaching meetings of some agricultural communicator organizations:

March 4-5
“Marketing to agriculture: building the essential foundation.” Conference sponsored by National Agri-Marketing Association at Westin O’Hare,  Chicago, Illinois.

April 7-9
“Brave new world.” Agricultural Relations Council annual meeting at  Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia.
Contact: Donna French  Dunn, ARC president, at

Best regards and good searching. 

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

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