Agricultural Communications I

Course description

Agricultural Communications I (EDRD 3050)

Fall 2013

University of Guelph, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (Ontario Agricultural College)

Class meets Mondays, 7-10 p.m. in Rozanski 107

Instructor: Prof. Owen Roberts

Email: owen@uoguelph.ca

Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 58278

Office: Room 445 University Centre

Office hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesdays; other times by appointment

About Agricultural Communications I (EDRD 3050)

This course focuses on developing an understanding and ability to apply practical and effective agricultural communication techniques through regular writing exercises and related activities, such as public speaking and blogging. Special emphasis is given to issues important to the agri-food sector, as communicated in general interest media and farm publications.

Course content and delivery reflects the realities of the agricultural news and communications business, especially adherence to deadlines. Students will carry out timely assignments, including citizen journalism exercises, agricultural-based news writing and speech preparation for the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (http://www.cysa-joca.ca/english/) competition.

What is agricultural communications?

As a field of teaching, research and practice, agricultural communications seeks to support and improve human interaction and decision making related to agriculture, broadly defined. With special traditions and strengths in journalism and mass communications, it partners with other social sciences, including school-based interests of agricultural education and non-formal education endeavours, such as extension services. Communication interests range across all levels, settings and means of communicating – intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and mass. Agricultural interests include all subject areas related to the complex global enterprises of food, feed, fibre, bio-based energy, genomics, natural resources management and rural development. Agricultural dimensions also span all participants in, and stages of, the food enterprise of societies, from agricultural research, policies, finance and production to food safety and security, consumption, nutrition and health and human well-being. The concept of agricultural knowledge management serves as the framework for an integrated, comprehensive research agenda in agricultural communications.  (source: First edition, National Research Agenda, Agricultural Education and Communication , page 9)

Course format and student evaluation

This course has three assignments.

Assignment 1 — Speech writing and delivery, 30 per cent

Assignment 2 — Agricultural news story, 25 per cent

Assignment 3 — Citizen journalism, 45 per cent

Total — 100 per cent

* * *

Course evaluation will be online.

* * *

Assignments

Assignment 1 — Speech writing and delivery (30 per cent). Students will work independently on a speech 5-7 minutes in length. The speeches will be delivered in class and judged by an expert panel, which will pick the top six speeches. Those students will be offered the opportunity to take part in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, by having their competition entrance fees ($40) waived, courtesy of the Ontario Agricultural College Alumni Association. All other students who meet the competition requirements are also welcome to take part, but will not have their entrance fees waived.

Students will choose from the following five topics, which are established by the CYSA organizing committee:

  • What does food security mean to Canadians?
  • Farmers’ three most important technologies are …
  • Does the family farm need help?
  • In the year 2050, here’s what agriculture will look like …
  • Reading, writing, and agriculture: should agriculture be in the curriculum?

Marking scheme for speech:

Content – 20 per cent

Delivery – 10 per cent

See rules (including thanking- and introducing requirements) at http://www.cysa-joca.ca/english/rules.php.  Pay particular attention to the senior competition score sheet.

Assignment 2 — Agricultural news story (25 per cent). Students will write a 350-500 word news story, in journalistic style. Topics will be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Students are welcome to suggest story topics and ideas.

Theme: Innovation in Rural Ontario

Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as consequence, new that “breaks in to” the market or into society. One usually associates to new phenomena that are important in some way. A definition of the term, in line with these aspects, would be the following: “An innovation is something original, new, and important – in whatever field – that breaks in to (or obtains a foothold in) a market or society.” (from Wikipedia; more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovation )

What:

1. 350-500 word news story

2. Worth 25 per cent

3. Topics chosen in consultation with the instructor; must have some news value and element of immediacy.

Why:

To highlight the vast amount of innovation taking place in rural Ontario

Where:

Stories can be based on innovation anywhere in rural Ontario…on farms, in communities, in businesses, in institutions, etc.

When:

1. Week of November 11 – story ideas due (5 marks); MUST INCLUDE 5s and W

2. Week of November 18 – lead, nut, quote due (5 marks)

3. Week of November 25 – first drafts due (5 marks)

4. Week of December 2 – final drafts due (10 marks)

Who: In partnership with the Rural Ontario Institute

The Rural Ontario Institute develops leaders, initiates dialogue, supports collaboration and promotes action on issues and opportunities facing rural Ontario.

Students are welcome to suggest their own story ideas and topics. The institute will also contribute story ideas to this effort and post students’ bylined stories on its website, ruralontarioinstitute.ca. It will also distribute the stories to media and others who are interested in innovation in rural Ontario.

How:

1. Journalistic style (inverted pyramid) using CP-style language

2. Must be based on at least one interview

STORIES UNDERWAY:

- Teacher ambassador program broadening agriculture’s reach into classrooms (Elizabeth)

- Summit promotes discussion and action for “network leadership”  (Candice)

- Update: Next-generation ag leadership strategy (Jenny)

- New technology combines seed corn harvesting and husking in the field (Chris)

- Kiki Maple Sweetwater making its way onto the market (Katy)

- Co-generation: An innovative approach to greenhouse heating (Alicia)

- Soybean producer belongs to a group pressing oil on their own farms (Sylvia)

- New livestock traceability efforts underway in  Ontario (Bea)

- Equine barn fire rescue program development (Mia)

- A new alternative to pasture: grazing beef cattle in Ontario cornfields (Jackie)

- Innovations in global dairy cattle embryo marketing (Kassie)

- Celebrity goat cheese, winner of Premier’s award of excellence (Courtney)

- A stronger hog industry through disease prevention (Allison)

- Local meat processing with complete transparency (Josh)

- Ultrasound for baby delivery; ultrasound for beef delivery (Chloe)

- Got chicken manure? Vineyards want to know (Jason)

- Innovative bus routing could mean better education  (Colleen)

- Seven feet of wood chips remove almost all nitrogen in greenhouse waste water (Michelle)

Assignment 3 — Citizen journalism (45 per cent). Students will use the web logging (i.e. “blogging”) platform WordPress (access at www.wordpress.com) to create a blog designed to promote discussion on agricultural topics. Students are to approach this assignment as citizen journalists, and regard the blogs as a medium for raising relevant agri-food news and issues. Eight 250-word entries – one per week, starting the week of October 7, 2013 – are required, along with tweets announcing new posts. Use Canadian Press style for entries.

Each blog entry should be three paragraphs. Each paragraph should be 80-90 words long.

Follow this format:

  • Paragraph one: introduce the issue, address the “what”
  • Paragraph two: explain what’s new with the issue (this is the news, the objective part, the “so what”)
  • Paragraph three: state your opinion about the issue (this is your commentary, the subjective part, the “now what”)

Due dates:

1. Sunday, October 13 (set up your blog and email me the URL)

2. Sunday, October 20

3. Sunday, October 27

4. Sunday, November 3

5. Sunday, November 10

6. Sunday, November 17

7. Sunday, November 24

8. Sunday, December 1

Marking scheme for citizen journalism exercise:

Content – 45 per cent (eight entries, five per cent each) based on

  • structure
  • newsworthiness
  • originality
  • spelling
  • grammar

Post your entry anytime during the week. Deadline is 6 p.m. on the date the postings are due. Late entries will not be marked.

You are being marked solely on content, but you are welcome to increase interest and readership by enhancing your blog with visuals (photos, graphics, videos, etc.).

Blog URLs:

The World of Agriculture

GMO Truths

50 Shades of Hay

Being Ag Wise

Communicate Agriculture

Jersey Girl

hawkesagriculture

Growing Crops Eh?

Learning The Cow Path

EquiKnowledge

Breaking Barn

Dairy -A Life in the Ring

beefagvocate

Crop Girl 2015

The Pork Pitch

Dedicated to Dairy

B for Beef

Growing For Change

Caledonia Cowgirl

More Milk Happiness

Be There! Be Ag Aware!

Green Clover Girl

Recommended reading and viewing

1. The Globe and Mail (www.theglobeandmail.com)

2. The Toronto Star (www.thestar.com)

3. Ontario Farmer (www.ontariofarmer.com)

4. Better Farming (http://www.betterfarming.com/homepage)

5. Guelph Mercury (www.guelphmercury.com)

6. CBC radio and television (www.cbc.ca)

7. Agricultural  Communications Documentation Center (http://www.library.illinois.edu/funkaces/acdc)

Fundamental writing help:

Writing Services at U of G Library (http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/assistance/writing_services//)

Suggested resources

General:

1. Canadian Press Stylebook (http://www.thecanadianpress.com/books.aspx?id=182)

2. Oxford Concise Dictionary (www.askoxford.com)

3. Online Writing Laboratory at Purdue University (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/)

Speeches:

1. Learn from the best: Tips from Toastmasters.

http://www.toastmasters.org/MainMenuCategories/FreeResources/NeedHelpGivingaSpeech/TipsTechniques/10TipsforPublicSpeaking.aspx

2. A wealth of resources about giving a speech, along with presentation skills.

http://www.theprcoach.com/speaking-pr-presentation-skills/speech-writing-ideas-tips/

3. Public speaking tips from MIT’s undergraduate research opportunities program.

http://web.mit.edu/urop/resources/speaking.html

Citizen journalism:

1. A primer on citizen journalism from Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism

2. A marketer discusses challenges and opportunities about blogging…

http://www.frugalmarketing.com/dtb/blogs.shtml

3. …and then talks about how to write “killer” blog posts

http://www.frugalmarketing.com/dtb/killer-blog-posts.shtml

4. What makes a good blog?

http://www.43folders.com/2008/08/19/good-blogs

5. From a UK student journalist: How journalism students can get involved in citizen journalism.

http://goo.gl/UmYWb

6. Assessing your blog traffic

  • log in to wordpress
  • locate the bar at the top and click on ‘my dashboard’
  • scroll down the page a bit and on the right hand side there should be a box titled ‘stats’ and in it a graph
  • move your mouse over the circles on the graph to see how many views you’re getting

News writing:

1. Editing out jargon and creating clarity.

http://www.ifaj.org/professional-development/professional-features/editing-out-jargon-and-creating-clarity-in-agricultural-journalism.html

2. One of the best all-around journalism sites anywhere:  http://journalistexpress.com/

* * *

Specific learning outcomes

When the course concludes, students will be able to:

1. Write and deliver a 5-7 minute speech for a general adult audience, on an important agricultural topic.

2. Differentiate by example between subjective journalism (i.e. citizen journalism) and objective news  writing.

3. Write a 300-word news story and understand the inverted pyramid writing style for news.

4. Create a web log (i.e. a “blog”) and engage in citizen journalism on relevant agricultural issues and topics.

5. Apply Canadian Press style to journalistic writing.

Schedule of activities
Agricultural Communications I
(EDRD 3050)
1 September 9 Course introduction
2 September 16
Public speaking workshop. Guest speaker Christina Crowley-Arklie, past in-class finalist and national CYSA senior vision winner
3 September 23 Rehearsal:In-class speak-offs for Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition
4 September 30
In-class speak-offs for Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition
5 October 7
Introduction to blogging, news writing and news release writing (guest: Jen Christie, Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation)
6 October 14 Thanksgiving (no class)
7 October 21 Blogging — first post reviews
8 October 28
Journalistic writing
9 November 4
Assignment #2 introduction
10 November 11
Story ideas due; difficult spelling exercise
11 Week of November 18 
Lead, nut, quote due
12 Week of November 25
First draft due
13 Week of December 2
Final draft due
     

 

Communicating by e-mail and the class listserv

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <uoguelph.ca> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

Class announcements will be posted on the email listserv AGCOMNET. Class members are subscribed through their uoguelph.ca email accounts.

To use agcomnet, type agcomnet@listserv.uoguelph.ca in the “to” field, type in your message, send, and all your classmates (as well as your professor) receive your message.

Academic consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, ID# and e-mail contact. See the undergraduate calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:  http://www.uoguelph.ca/registrar/calendars/undergraduate/current/c08/c08-ac.shtml

Academic misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.  University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University’s policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct.  Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Note: Whether a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The academic misconduct policy is detailed in the undergraduate calendar:

http://www.uoguelph.ca/registrar/calendars/undergraduate/current/c08/c08-amisconduct.shtml

Accessibility

The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community’s shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Centre for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible.

For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email csd@uoguelph.ca or see the website: http://www.csd.uoguelph.ca/csd/

Recording of materials

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the written permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

Copies of out-of-class assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.

 

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