ACDC News – Issue 18-08

Use of Internet and social media levels out in advanced economies

However, it continues to rise in emerging and developing economies. Those are among trends observed in research reported during June by the Pew Research Center.

  • Internet use in 17 advanced economies surveyed remained high and relatively flat between 2015-16 (86%) and 2017-18 (87%)
  • Internet use in 19 emerging and developing economies increased steadily between 2013-14 (42%) and 2017-18 (64%).
  • Social media use in emerging and developing markets (53% in 2017) is “fast approaching levels seen in more advanced economies” (60% in 2017).
  • Smartphone ownership grew from 24% in 2013-14 to 42% in 2017-18 in emerging and developing economies. It continued at 72% in the advanced economies between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
  • “Despite growing internet use and smartphone ownership, the world remains digitally divided,” both within and across countries.

You can read the report here.

Why nearly one-half of U.S. consumers are avoiding GMO foods

A 2018 national online survey identified human health as the main concern (85%) behind consumer decisions to avoid GMO foods. Other concerns involved environment (43%), animal health (36%), and agriculture/farming (34%).

These and other findings come from a study reported by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation:

 When information is accurate, but not true: a call for local journalism

Krista Kapralos of the Global Press Journal pushed that point in a recent article in Nieman Reports.  She emphasized that when you speak the local language and understand local customs the information you gather is filtered in a culturally appropriate way.

“For many research and news agencies, the process of gathering data results in a continual confrontation between Western assumptions and non-Western cultures. While that really makes the truth less convenient to find, there is a huge potential payoff for those who seek it in context: a meaningful negotiation between equal partners who can respectfully create systems to help determine what is true.”

You can read the article here.

Update on how U. S. farmers view and manage risk

Economist Stephanie Rosch of the Economic Research Service, USDA, recently presented the update. Her report involved a 2014 nationally-representative sample of nearly 30,000 farm households. Among the findings:

  • Approximately 24% of responding farmers were risk averse, 41% were risk neutral, and 35% were risk seeking.
  • Willingness to accept risk was dispersed around the country.
  • Compared to risk-seeking farmers, risk-averse farmers were more likely to be full owners, less likely to rent-in land, farmed smaller operations, shared responsibilities with fewer cooperators, had lower farm and household incomes, and maintained higher levels of working capital. They also were less likely to diversify production, use contract production, invest in crop insurance, and invest in savings.

Researcher Rosch suggested that the findings may be useful in understanding how changes in federal risk management programs may impact farmers’ decisions about participating.

You can read the research report here.

 How farmers prefer to learn about new farm practices

A 2018 research report identified Extension fact sheets and short seminars as formats farmers in Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota said they prefer for learning new farm practices. Webinars, day-long workshops, and farm tours ranked considerably lower.

You can read this research poster here.

Can PR win against “fake news”?

Sarah Hill of Paulsen (agricultural marketing communications firm based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) raised that question in a recent commentary. She conceded that public relations fights an uphill battle of being not as provocative.  Citing a multi-million-tweet analysis, she reported that falsehoods were 70 percent more likely to be shared and spread faster on Twitter than true stories.”

However, ethics matter, she emphasized. “They may seem touchy-feely, but earning trust and respect for our companies and clients hinges on telling the truth and acting with integrity – always.” She also cited evidence from editors that the press release remains the most trusted form of communication from PR professionals.

You can read the commentary here.

Communicator events approaching

September 20-22, 2018
“The changing face(s) of agriculture.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) in Winnipeg, Manitoba Province, Canada.

October 1, 2018
Deadline for full research papers to be submitted for presentation at the 2019 National Agricultural Communications Symposium (NACS) in Montgomery, Alabama, January 31 – February 6, 2019.

October 3-7, 2018
Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Flint, Michigan, site of the most serious drinking water crisis in modern U.S. history.

October 12-16, 2018
“ScienceWriters2018.” Meeting of the National Association of Science Writers in Washington, D.C. Information:

October 19, 2018
Deadline for (a) research and innovative posters and (b) proposals for professional development sessions at the 2019 National Agricultural Communications Symposium, Montgomery, Alabama, January 31 – February 6, 2019.

 November 7-9, 2018
“75 Years Strong.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), Kansas City, Missouri.  Information:

How earth speaks to heaven

We close this issue of ACDC News with an unusual communications perspective from Rabindanath Tagore, quoted in the Book of Green Quotations:

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”

Best wishes and good searching

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique and valuable collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to

Click Here for a printer-friendly PDF of this newsletter.



ACDC News – Issue 06-06

From subservient chickens to brawny men.

That title of a research paper caught our eye recently. Speaking at the 2005 conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Lance Porter and Guy Golan compared “viral advertising” with television advertising.

“Off the Internet, ‘viral marketing’ has been referred to as ‘word-of-mouth,’ ‘creating a buzz,’ ‘leveraging the media,’ ‘network marketing,'” they explained. “But on the Internet, for better or worse, it’s called ‘viral marketing.'”

The researchers included among their case reports a “viral advertising” campaign by Burger King to sell a new BK TenderCrisp chicken sandwich via a Web site that featured the Subservient Chicken. Visitors to this site were “greeted by an actor dressed in a chicken suit and garter belt who appeared to respond to and attempt to act out any typed command. attracted 14 million unique users in just under a year, and sales of the BK TenderCrisp reportedly increased 9 percent a week while the campaign was in full swing.”

Title: From subservient chickens to brawny men 

ACDC collection now past 28,000.

We are pleased to report that the document collection in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center passed the 28,000 mark during 2005. In fact, the Center now contains more than 28,500 documents as we scout globally for new (and not-new) information.

Thanks to all who are helping us identify this important, widely scattered literature and make it available to improve communications about what we grow and eat.

And more users than ever.

We also are encouraged to find that the ACDC Web site hosted more than one million successful page requests during 2005, an average of nearly 3,000 a day. This total for 2005 was nearly double the number of requests during 2004 and about 10 times the total of four years ago.

Global interests in communications about agriculture. 

Usage data indicate the Center Web site served users from 81 countries during 2005. Information searchers from 20 to 49 countries visited the site each month, averaging 35 countries a month.

We need to cover rural issues better. Readers will cringe. 

So reported Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, at a 2005 national conference for U.S. journalists. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues programmed this conference. Davis urged the press to pay attention to poverty, inadequate health care, substance abuse, suicide, community dysfunction and other tough rural issues in the U.S.

The press has a critical role to play, he said. “Not as advocates. No one who romanticizes journalism as much as I would want to change our job description. But we need to cover rural issues better. Misperceptions have consequences. We need to explain rural better. We need to show how it is connected to a bigger world. We need to talk about solutions from time to time. And we need more folks like you to show up and get some s___ on their shoes.”

Title: Misperceptions have consequences
Posted at:

FDA redefines meaning of ‘whole grain’ foods.

On Feb. 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drafted new guidelines to help manufacturers better define “whole grain” content on food labels. By doing so, consumers can make heart-healthy choices based on a consistent definition of the term, the agency says.

The FDA says “whole grain” may include such foods as “barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, rice, rye, oats, sorghum, wheat and wild rice.” However, the FDA does not consider “products derived from legumes (soybeans), oilseeds (sunflower seeds) and roots (arrowroot) as ‘whole grains.’” Furthermore, the FDA recommends that pizza only be labeled as “whole grain” or “whole wheat” when its crust is made entirely from whole grain or whole wheat flour, respectively.

“The food label is the best tool we have to help consumers choose a healthy diet, which includes whole grain products,” said Dr. Robert E. Brackett, director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The FDA is accepting written comments on the draft guidelines for 60 days.

Title: FDA provides guidance on whole grain 
Posted at:

Providing distance education for agriculture – 80 years ago.

We might do well to remember that agriculture was at the forefront of wireless distance education. If friends give you a doubtful eye at such news, you might refer them to this 1926 evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Milton S. Eisenhower, “Agricultural Department plans augmented farm radio service: National School of the Air to open October 1 – courses include lectures on important phases of farming industry.”

Radio was an early – indeed, a magical – wireless information technology when it became available during the early 1920s. Check with us if you wish to gain access to this document or others about pioneering rural distance education by radio.

Title: Agricultural Department plans augmented farm radio service

Communicator activities approaching

April 19-21, 2006
“Jazzed!” Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

May 8-11, 2006
“NETC 2006.” National Extension Technology Conference at Gainesville, Florida, USA.

May 14-17, 2006
“International teamwork in agricultural and extension education.” Conference of the Association for International Agricultural Education and Extension (AIAEE) in Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA.

May 21-26, 2006
“Managing agricultural information for sustainable food security and improved livelihoods in Africa.” Conference of the International Association for Agricultural Information Professionals (IAALD) in Nairobi, Kenya.

June 13, 2006
“Getting the word out. Are we communicating effectively?” A food safety communicator conference hosted by the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Agricultural communication faculty position available.

The Ohio State University seeks an assistant professor of agricultural communication (12-month, tenure or tenure-track). Responsibilities will include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, advising students, conducting research, and other academic responsibilities. Review of applications begins May 1 and continues until the position is filled.

Information: Dr. M. Susie Whittington, Chair, Agricultural Communication Search Committee, Department of Human and Community Resource Development.

Pork packer’s advice on communicating.

We close this issue of ACDC News with a piece of advice on communicating from John Graham of George Horace Lorimer’s classic book, Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to his Son:

“It’s all right when you are calling on a girl or talking with friends after dinner to run a conversation like a Sunday-school excursion, with stops to pick flowers; but in the office your sentences should be the shortest distance between two periods.”

Best regards and good searching.

When you see interesting items you cannot find locally or online, get in touch with us at Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

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 communication 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

March, 2006