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ACDC News

Issue 05-9, May, 2005

Agricultural public relations shootout. An unexpected conflict between the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Florida Department of Citrus flared up early this year. Here’s how, according to a news article we added recently:

  • The University issued a release that described two matters. One involved a man reported to be the victim of a deadly interaction between grapefruit juice and a cholesterol-lowering medicine. The other involved evidence of interactions between grapefruit juice and birth control pills.
  • A public relations agency employed by the Florida Department of Citrus challenged the accuracy of the release, issued its own release saying the University news release was inaccurate and asked the University to issue another release with corrections.

Reporter William R. Levesque described the detailed sequence in this interesting case report.

Reference: Grapefruit article sets off PR shootout

The article can be found in the St. Petersburg Times free archive posted @: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/02/21/Business/Companies.shtml


Media reporting of genetics – surprisingly accurate? In some circumstances, yes, according to an article in Trends in Biotechnology. Author Timothy Caulfield observed:

“…emerging data suggest that, in some circumstances, the media reporting of science is surprisingly accurate and portrays a message created by the scientific community. As such, there are reasons to believe that the hyping of research results might be part of a more systemic problem associated with the increasingly commercial nature of the research environment.”

Reference:Biotechnology and the popular press

Reference:Do the print media “hype” genetic research?
Posted @: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/170/9/1399


Helping students “speak better” about food. We have added to the ACDC collection a journal article about food science courses that help students become better oral communicators. Iowa State University students learned about food preparation through exercises that integrated disciplinary content with a variety of speaking and listening experiences.

Authors concluded: “In the food science discipline, oral communication becomes central as students work on teams, teach their peers, serve customers, lead, negotiate, work with cultural diversity, interview, listen, conduct meetings, and resolve conflicts. These behaviors must be practiced as ‘professionals-in-training’ gain the expertise required for employment as experts.”

Reference: Improving oral communication skills of students
Posted at: http://www.ift.org/pdfs/jfse/jfsev3n2p0015-0020ms20030359.pdf


The struggle over seeds. A recent article we added from Politics and Society examined “‘farmers’ rights’ as a strategy of resistance against the perceived inequities of intellectual property rights regimes for plant varieties.”

Analyst Craig Borowiak observed, “As commercial models of intellectual property have made their way into agriculture, farmers’ traditional seed-saving practices have been increasingly delegitimized. In response, farmers have adopted the language of farmers’ rights to demand greater material recognition of their contributions and better measures to protect their autonomy. This campaign has mixed implications.”

Reference: Farmers’ rights
Posted @: http://pas.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/32/4/511


Can honeybees speak? A buzzing debate. Eileen Crist summarized it in a recent issue of Social Studies of Science. She examined, on one side, how behavioral scientists have conceptualized the honeybee dance as a linguistic system. On the other side, she explained how the dance upset deep-seated assumptions about the “great chain of being,” with man and other higher mammals at the apex and invertebrates in the basement.

This report offers insights for agricultural communicators who sometimes are asked if they “talk with the animals.” No end to the debate seems in sight. Author Crist said her analysis suggests that “if one really does not believe that a small honeybee has language capability, then apparently no evidence may ever suffice to prove its existence.”

Reference: Can an insect speak?
Posted @: http://sss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/34/1/7


Communicator activities approaching

May 31-June 4, 2005
“Ideas and missions/Ideas y misiones.” Joint conferences of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Live and Human Sciences (ACE), National Extension Technology Conference (NETC), International Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT), and
Extension Video Producers (EVP) in San Antonio, Texas USA.
Information: http://acenetc2005.tamu.edu

June 4-7, 2005
“Mile high energy: reaching your communications peak.” 2005 Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Denver, Colorado USA.
Information: http://www.communicators.coop

June 9-11, 2005
“Horse by Northwest.” 2005 Seminar of American Horse Publications (AHP) in Seattle, Washington USA.
Information: http://www.americanhorsepubs.org/programs/seminars/index.html

July 31-August 3, 2005
“Agricultural Media Summit.” Professional development conference of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and AgriCouncil of the Association of Business Media Companies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA.
Information: http://www.agmediasummit.com


Great rules for writing. We close this issue of ACDC News with a classic contra dictum attributed to William Safire. It is not directed specifically to agricultural writers, but on occasion might be.

“Do not put statements in the negative form. And don’t start sentences with a conjunction. It is incumbent on one to avoid archaisms. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.”


When you see interesting items you can’t find online or locally get in touch with us at docctr@library.uiuc.edu. Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.


Best regards and good searching. Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our assistance as you search for information. 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 docctr@library.uiuc.edu .