Take a minute and think about how you learn about current events affecting agriculture. How do use media in this process? What media do you select? Now, think about another topic that you are completely unfamiliar with. How do you learn about it? What role does media play in your understanding? How are these two processes different for you? How are they the same? What does this tell you about how people unfamiliar with agriculture may learn about it? What did you learn is this week’s readings that could help you improve this process?
Sorry to begin with so many questions, but I think it helps to put us in the right frame of mind when discussing the role of media in agricultural communications. We all know that the number of journalists with a specific ag beat has dropped dramatically. Reporters are now asked to cover multiple topics and likely take the pictures and video associated with the stories and upload it to the web or a blog themselves. Very few members of mainstream media understand agriculture, but I hope you realized from this week’s readings that we cannot make grand claims about the media’s power to corrupt (or save) society. Media is one piece of the entire puzzle. People do not absorb 100% of the content they come in to contact with and personal characteristics play a huge role. The theories discussed in this week’s readings play a large role in our understanding of how people process and seek information. If you were seeking to change a person’s attitude toward the handling of livestock, which theory from this week do you think would help explain the process best? Would you select a different theory if you were trying to change a farmer’s attitude toward adopting new technology?
As you are learning in the peer review process, scholars do not always agree. From disagreement arises some of the world’s best discoveries. As scholars you shouldn’t just accept things the way they are. Ask questions, challenge the norm, and test the theories you find issue with. You may disprove what another scholar has found, or convince yourself that the theory should stand. As you read through chapter 14, was there a place where you questioned the author’s claims or how they were presented? Was your reception the result of negotiated meaning or an outright oppositional decoding situation?