Blog 10: Setting the Agricultural Agenda

I imagine that this week’s readings were of great interest to you, as much of the discussion on the blog has focused on how we can better understand the general public’s perceptions and attitudes toward agriculture. Agenda setting is an interesting theory that applies to so much of what we do in agricultural communications. The three agendas of media, public, and political are areas of deep concern for agricultural communications professionals. Think about the reason you turned on the television or surfed the Internet most recently. What use were you intending when you initially began using the medium? Was it entertainment, information, or perhaps explanation you were seeking? Did the media affect you in obvious ways you were not originally seeking? Can you imagine any subliminal effects you may have experienced without realizing it at the time?  How can we use your answers to these questions and the theories from the chapter this week to address concerns of agricultural literacy in the general public?

One of the common ways the public hears about agriculture is during a food crisis like in the Barr, Irlbeck and Akers article in JAC we read this week. These authors chose framing as the theoretical/conceptual framework for their study. What other theories in this week’s reading would have implications for this study or future studies of food crises?

The Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani study also utilized framing. What differences did you see in the way the researchers applied the theory? If you were to conduct a follow-up study based on these authors’ research, what type of study would you conduct? Which theory would you chose to guide the study?

19 thoughts on “Blog 10: Setting the Agricultural Agenda

  1. Class,
    Recently, I have been searching the internet about GMOs and public perception of the technology. Through my research of the public’s perceptions of GMOs, I was initially seeking information of why consumers view GMOs negatively, and what information they process to create these interpretations. The information I found was not necessarily shocking to me – consumers want information and want to be safe when consuming their food. Surprisingly, in an article I read about GMOs in Poland, even farmers and agricultural advisors were skeptical of the technology. If the farmers using the technology aren’t confident in what they are planting, how can we expect consumers to trust it? I also found several comments that there are currently no negative effects, but is sometimes worded as ‘potential risks.’ Some of the news articles may quote scientists making these statements, but I have yet to find any quantitative data. Would consumers be more trusting and open if more quantitative data were provided? Consumers want transparency and lots of information, and we need to provide this. As we provide more information to consumers, will they interpret it as intended?

    For my Communication Theories in Action Paper, I have been researching the reception theory from Chapter 14 and believe this would be a good theory in this study as well. Applying the reception theory to a select group of consumers, provides different interpretations of how the media was presented through the two crises. Though the study indicated certain stories as positive, negative, or neutral, the consumers may perceive the same stories differently. Cognitive dissonance is also a theory to study in this case – the outbreak of salmonella causes an unbalance perception of the products. The methods consumers use to restore consonance plays a role in this theory as well.

    In the Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani study, the focus of framing is more focused on the audience (or receiver) instead of the sources. If I were to conduct a follow-up study, I would provide articles to a new group of individuals based on the initial groups’ suggestions. Some of these suggestions include supporting data, develop a mental image, word choice. The study would mirror the initial study, just incorporating the first study’s suggestions. The framing theory and reception theory would fit well in both studies.

    Jessica Woofter

    1. Jessica,

      Great post! I can relate to many of the aspects of the post that you discussed. It is really interesting to take a look at the way that others perceive things especially in relationship to agriculture. Also establishing that important trust and rapport in order to continue growing the relationship is extremely virtue. Often times those that are not familiar with agriculture do not have previous knowledge to know if something is correct or not. Therefore, that is when the usage of data comes into play when trying to convince those individuals. Many want proof before making his or her decision. Awesome read!

      Ashlyn Richardson

    2. Jessica,
      I really enjoyed reading your blog this week as you discussed GMO’s. GMO’s is a hot topic which I am currently covering in my Animal Ethics course this week. I found in my class that most of my students “knew” what GMO’s were per say but most of them struggled to tell me what GMO stands for. The whole class knew that this topic was something to do with the food system but they did not know which foods exactly could contain GMO’s, a majority of the class thought that basically every form of food has been genetically modified in some way shape or form. I was very excited to educate my class on the fact that currently only 10 products have been genetically modified, my students came to the conclusion in class that some of the food labels in stores are false advertising when they say “NON GMO” because that product has not been genetically modified. A showed my class a movie called “Food Evolution,” and I was amazed at the response that I got. I have 40 students in my class all from a range of backgrounds, from being raised in the city to being raised on a 1,000 cow dairy farm, though my students come from very different backgrounds each one of them left the room concluding that movie with a very similar feeling which was incredibly moving for me as a teacher. Thank you for sharing your input in this blog post I hope my response is helpful and meaningful to you.

      -Leah

  2. Class,

    I really enjoyed what the reading had to offer this week as well as the way that it incorporated all aspects and audiences. I found it vital to be able to bring in those that are less knowledgeable about agriculture and be able to communicate our opinion in ways that can be backed up rather than simply telling them that they should think this way because etc…..and inserting our own opinion based on our experience in agriculture to convince them to believe us. The media brings about several awesome aspects of examples of being able to discuss current agricultural related events in a manner that allows the audience to learn but also have proof such as the GMO or mad cow events.

    Next, often times even viewing agriculture related media I have been affected in ways that I had not previously planned for. As someone that constantly keeps up with agriculture as well as studies several of the main events occurring daily, my opinion has even been swayed. However, I cannot imagine if I was an individual that was simply watching regular news that brought about an agriculture topic and tried to create my stance. Not previously being too familiar with agriculture as an outsider I feel as if I would be very uncertain of my beliefs or opinion. Therefore, yes I definitely believe no matter the media it can play a huge role into the opinion of the viewers and the entire realm.

    Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani focus on the audience and the important role that the audience plays in terms of detecting whether or not it is necessary to continue teaching the audience a variety of aspects of the topic. If I was to create a new study I would ensure that it was similar to the initial study because I believe that it was completed very well. The only aspect that I would alter to change the study would be to add in a larger sample of various audience members and determine if that creates any form of difference.

    I look forward to learning from each of you.

    Thanks,

    Ashlyn Richardson

    1. Ashlyn,

      I agree with your statement on being able to communicate with individuals who may not be as knowledgeable about agriculture, as ourselves. The point you make about being able to back up our information instead of just telling them how to think is a very vital part of agriculture communications. Just like the agenda setting theory states, you cannot tell someone what to think rather what to think about. It is important first we get individuals thinking about agriculture, then we come in with facts and statistics to back up our claims.

      It is so important for our industry to consider the opposing sides of things so we can be informed and ready to handle anything thrown our way. It is important as agricultural communicators that we understand the theories we are learning about, so we can better reach individuals who do not think the same way we do. It is also important, to keep in mind what we think is an acceptable message, may affect others in different ways.

      I think it would be a smart idea to increase the sample size of the study. As the article stated, they view of the focus groups might change with geographic locations. However, to increase the sample size, would not necessarily allow for focus groups. Maybe a survey would be a better way to collect data.

      Thanks for you input on this week’s readings!
      -Kelsey

  3. Before starting on this assignment, the last thing I did, was surf the web. My car has slowly been falling apart, so I was using the internet to look for a potential new vehicle. I was using the internet to find information on what make of vehicle interested me, the average price of the vehicle, as well as what dealerships near me would have what I am looking for. After looking at vehicles online, I was definitely overwhelmed and a little disappointed. To my surprise, there was a very small selection to choose from on the various websites I went to. I did not foresee this being an issue and it left me frustrated and uneager to continue my search online. I figured with all the pictures and videos of the vehicles, I would be sure to find one “I had to have,” this was not the case. Some of the subliminal messages of online shopping, would have to be all the adds that are on the sides of pages as you scroll through. I know they are there and I tend to ignore them, but as you scroll through the page you catch glimpses of the adds. I feel that this could be an example of a subliminal effect. One page I happened upon, was all pink. I found this to be odd, especially for a car dealership. I then later realized it is October, which is breast cancer awareness month. This had nothing to do with vehicles, but it was a good way to bring subtle awareness to the cause.

    I think agriculture literacy in the general public is a huge concern. One way to overcome this issue is by bringing more positive awareness to agriculture. In this week’s readings, there were a lot of theories covered, but I found uses and effects, agenda setting, exemplar theory, and framing theory, all great theories that could be used to spread positive awareness throughout the general public. For instance, in my example of all the ads on the sides of my computer screen. Agriculture is such a big industry it can be tied to many different other industries. The agriculture industry could pay for ad space and tie it in with what the customer is searching for. This would make a connection for the consumer that agriculture helped produce the item of interest, and in turn hopefully produce a positive connection for the consumer, to agriculture. At the same time agriculture would be in general, more abundant on the online pages and potentially strike up interest in the general public.

    One theory that might have implications for this study and other pertaining to food crises might be uses and effects. Instead of looking at how media frames the food crises. Researchers might look at why and how consumers actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs. Another theory that might be considered, is the agenda setting theory. By implementing this theory researchers could look at if the media serves as a catalyst to food crises. If the media did not bring so much attention to the crisis would consumers be as weary of purchasing certain products or produce? Or, if the media told the consumers it was ok to continue to eat certain foods, would they listen? I also think the exemplar theory could play a role in not necessarily food crises but the “fight” on using GMO’s. If the media were to use examples of non-GMO foods versus GMO foods, maybe the public would be better understanding of the importance of GMO’s and see the actual benefit of using GMO’s.

    Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani focused more on how consumers interpreted agricultural messages. When compared to the other article, the researchers looked more at the coverage of agricultural topics. If I was to conduct a follow up study, I would come up with 10 examples of an agriculture message and have each message be framed from the perspective of a “local” famer or producer, and the opposite message be from the prospective of someone who works for big cooperation’s. I would then run a focus group and have the individuals pick which message they preferred. It would be interesting to see if the industry is really aware of what the consumers want to hear. To guide this study, I would utilize the uses and effects theory and potentially the exemplar theory.

    1. Kelsey,

      I, much like you, surfed the web as the last thing before this assignment. The internet seems to be the type of media that I use the most as it is right at my fingertips, and I typically do not watch t.v. unless I am unwinding at night. I also was shopping and noticed ads on the side of the pages. I find your idea for the industry to purchase ad space a unique solution for agricultural literacy. This technique has been around for a while which makes me question why the industry has not used it before. Have they tried and seen a decline in awareness? Was their algorithm defective? Would informational websites and shopping go well together?

      I also would love to see your follow-up study become a reality. I think the question agriculturalist are always asking is: “Are we answering the consumers’ thoughts?”. I am interested in how you would use the exemplar theory in this study. Are you going to provide stories/examples as part of the messages? Are you going to attach a personal experience to the local messages while none to the cooperate message?

      I look forward to learning more from you.

      Christina Peterson

    2. Hi Kelsey,

      Thank you for the insights that you shared this week. While reading about your search for a new vehicle, I could see how subliminal advertisements could impact readers. One interesting point that I did note was your statement about how the dealership’s website was pink to support breast cancer awareness during the month of October. I will say that while it is great that the dealership is promoting this type of awareness, they may be using this tactic to get more online attention and increase sales.

      My parents own a small Chevrolet dealership, and in 2016 I managed their social media accounts. Every year Chevy donates a certain amount of money for every Instagram and Twitter post that uses their hashtag during the month of October. They give dealers social media toolkits, which include a frame to capture in the picture. For example, last year we had people write the name of someone with breast cancer on a frame, take a picture with the frame, and use #idrivefor when posting their picture on Instagram.

      When I ran the social media pages, I used this campaign to get people into our dealership by encouraging our social media audience to come into our dealership and get their picture taken with the frame. Our participants felt like they were doing something that was morally good. However, I had an ulterior motive for this campaign. I used this campaign as a tool to expose people to the new and used vehicles on our lot and in our show room. I know this sounds bad, but we were using this campaign to promote our vehicles and drive sales.

      I would assume that the dealership’s website that you stumbled upon may have also had an ulterior motive for having a pink website. By promoting breast cancer awareness, the dealership was probably trying to frame themselves as a dealership that is doing something that is morally good. This compliance-gaining tactic was likely used to persuade people to buy their vehicles.

      I loved your idea of using online advertisements to improve agricultural literacy. Agricultural groups could utilize the exemplar theory and/or the framing theory to guide their work. It is important that these groups frame their messages in ways that positively impact perceptions. Perhaps, agricultural groups could also utilize the exemplar theory to share stories and examples through advertorials. For instance, an advertorial may focus on ways that agriculture has had a positive impact on the economy. The advertorial may accomplish this task by sharing a story about someone’s career in agriculture.

      Finally, I loved your example of using the exemplar theory to improve the general public’s perception of GMO’s. I think that sharing stories and examples that show GMO’s in a positive light is a terrific idea. Do you think the social learning theory could also be used to improve the public’s perceptions of GMO’s? For instance, showing people eating GMO’s and living healthy lives could influence the audience’s behavior. This may help to mitigate some of the negative stereotypes associated with GMO’s.

      Best,
      Alyssa S.

    3. Hi Kelsey,

      I enjoyed reading your blog post this week! It made me think a little more about what I previously wrote and curate more ideas out of this blog post. I found it interesting that you talked about how the car dealership turned their homepage pink for October, and it made me think, “Are we putting ourselves out there with other industries too? Or are we inadvertently secluding ourselves, creating the ‘us versus them’ concept?”. Are we as agriculturalists partnering with other industries to celebrate, teach, and spread awareness about our interests? This also brings to mind a video I recently watched on Facebook about Clinique and how they had celebrities taking off their makeup this month (Take the Day Off Challenge) to promote awareness and raise money for a foundation. Granted, the concepts are a little different, but breast cancer awareness isn’t totally related to makeup, and they are still making a wave through social media – why can’t we do this in agriculture?

      I also found it quite interesting when you mentioned agenda setting theory as implications for this study. I hadn’t recently thought about that, but it would be interesting to consider a world where agriculture was a prevalent part of the general media.

      Thanks for your insight!

      -Anissa

  4. Class,

    This week has been crazy been for me as last week I made a long five day drive from North Dakota to Virginia relocating my family and belongings for my husband’s job. With a new house, comes new space that must be filled. The last reason I surfed the internet was to start shopping for new living room furniture to fill our second room. I was seeking out information on what stores have the best prices, what color scheme would I want for my furniture, and the average prices spent on furniture. While browsing different websites, the sites would suggest that I look at other items that they had in the store due to my recent shopping history. I had recently purchased new winter clothing for my 9 month old daughter, so baby clothing suggestions kept popping up. Even though I was set on researching furniture, so I could make a purchase in the coming weeks, I ended up looking up baby clothes for my daughter and nephew which spiraled into looking at dressers for my daughter’s room and birthday gifts (Christmas Eve baby).

    Some subliminal effects that I did not realize I was experiencing while surfing the web was how much time I lost by getting distracted by new recommendations at each store, but also how I was more willing to spend money when I was redirected to a new page and my ebates button lit up letting me know that I could get cash back from the store. As I started this paper, I went to my ebates history and can see that I stored 5 shopping trips during my browsing.

    As other classmates have mentioned, agricultural literacy is very important to those of us involved in agriculture. Exemplar theory could help address the concerns of agricultural literacy when consumers are surfing the web. Many consumers may surf the web to seek out information about buying organic food or purchasing their own plants to grow food. The industry could develop an algorithm similar to those used on the internet when you are shopping and it suggests other items based on your history. This algorithm would be based off your browsing history and suggest different elite agricultural blogs that are already in existence matched to what you are researching. This idea would take time and money that the industry may not have, but it would be a unique idea to implement, since we already see how ads on the internet increase sales revenue by drawing customers to the website.

    One theory that many other classmates have brought up that would have implications for future studies of food crises would be uses and effects. In any crisis, the way media handles the information will have a direct impact on the consumers’ attitude. The most common research question for this theory would be how the media’s power affected the consumers’ behaviors. It would be interesting to have a study pertaining to food crises utilizing this theory evaluate the motivation behind the media’s message. Does the media realize their actions are impacting the consumers negatively/positively? Does the media allow political motivations to overpower their ethical decisions?

    Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani focus on the side effects of framing how the audience interpreted the messages that were framed. Barr, Irlbeck, and Akers focused on how the message was framed. If I were to conduct a follow-up study based on these authors’ research, I would compile a list of 10 agricultural messages that were relevant to current agricultural trends. Five of the messages would be nationally based, while the other five would be selected based on the region. I would continue to use framing to see how the respondents view messages when it directly relates to them versus a national scope.

    Christina Peterson

  5. Christina,

    Thank you for your post. I think we can all relate to the realization of how much time we’ve wasted searching the web. It is crazy how technology has progressed and can now propose alternative searches based on your past entries.
    If industry would be able to create similar algorithm based on an individuals searches, it could either be a positive or negative move. If some of the links created matched their preexisting negative opinions of agriculture, the information would only re-enforce their attitudes and beliefs. On the other hand, positive messages may create a dissonance of their attitudes and they will further explore the information.

    Your suggestion to evaluate the motivation of the media’s message aligns with my conclusion of the article. Does the media purposefully impact consumers, or is their bias so strong that it appears in the message as well?

    Jessica Woofter

  6. While I was sitting in the airport yesterday, I searched the internet to find thanksgiving recipes. My husband and I have decided to host thanksgiving for our families this year. We have approximately 30 people coming to our house for dinner. To avoid a total disaster on Thanksgiving, in the form of an inedible meal, I was hoping to find a turkey and desert recipes online. While I was reviewing various recipes, I came across a pumpkin pie recipe. The recipe was in the form of a blog post; thus, it contained pictures and featured a “how to” video. The pictures, video, and the recipe instructed the audience to use a KitchenAid stand mixer to make homemade whipped cream to serve with the pie. I remember thinking that it would be great to have a stand mixer, and I even told my husband last night that I want one for Christmas. I’ve wanted a stand mixer for months. I watch a lot of cooking shows, and it seems like they often use stand mixers in their food preparations. These subliminal messages, and specifically the subliminal reminder about the stand mixer in the blog post, impacted me because it caused me to ask for a stand mixer for Christmas.

    Based on my response to Dr. Baker’s first question, I realize that we can use the social learning theory to address concerns of agricultural literacy in the general public. As I stated in my example, I want a KitchenAide stand mixer because I have observed these mixers used by professional and amateur chefs on television and online. Through observational learning I have learned to use a stand mixer, even though I don’t have one.

    I believe that the social learning theory may be utilized to help us address our concerns related to the agricultural literacy crisis. By observing both real and symbolic behaviors of others, humans learn behaviors. Since virtual reality is trending in society, I believe that virtual reality and gaming may help address concerns related to the agricultural literacy of school-aged children. By using virtual reality and gaming that focuses on agriculture, I believe that we may be able to instill knowledge and an appreciation of the agricultural industry in children. As it relates to the social learning theory, this idea would allow children to learn the behaviors of farmers and ranchers through gaming and virtual reality. Our children are our future, and if we want to continue to produce enough food to feed a growing population, we need our future agriculturalists, consumers, and voters to be agriculturally literate.

    One theory that might have implications for the JAC article that was written by Barr, Irlbeck and Akers would be the exemplar theory. This theory suggests that perceptions are formed mainly by the stories and examples that we see and hear. Thus, it would be fascinating to utilize this theory in the study performed by Barr, Irlbeck, and Akers. It would be interesting to examine the Salmonella outbreaks in 2008 and 2009 and then compare the data using the exemplar theory to determine how the examples and stories shared in the media coverage impacted public opinions. The theory could be used to help guide this study to answer the following questions:
    • What stories were shared pertaining to how people were affected by each of the Salmonella outbreaks?
    • What was the proportion of positive and negative examples shared by the media in each outbreak?
    • For each outbreak, what effects did the stories and examples shared throughout the medias’ coverage have on have on public opinions?

    Both JAC articles utilized framing to guide their studies. The main difference that I saw was in the way that the different researchers applied the theory. For instance, the Barr, Irlbeck, and Akers article focused on how the media utilized framework to frame their coverage of the 2008 and 2009 Salmonella outbreaks. On the other hand, the Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani study focused on the impact of the media’s use of framing on consumers. They examined the media’s use of framing and how the audience interpreted the media’s messages.

    As the article by Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani recommended, agricultural organizations need to avoid sending messages that may be misconstrued in the eyes of the consumers. Thus, I would conduct a follow-up study to examine different messages shared by 10 agricultural organizations to determine how the messages are being framed and received by the general public. I would use the framing theory to guide this study. I would conduct a qualitative study using content analysis to compare the different framing methods utilized by the different agricultural groups and examine how the messages were received. I would also look at the effects that these messages had on public opinions.

    Alyssa S.

  7. Before I read the initial blog post for this week, I had been browsing social media as a break for lunch. I frequently do this for entertainment purposes and to just take a break. I’m not sure the media has an outright effect on me when I do this. However, I think it does have a subliminal effect on me and my perceptions of other things. When I scroll through my Twitter feed, it often pops up with “so and so favorited this Tweet”. Sometimes this can bring up ideas and views that aren’t typically found on my timeline of people I follow. When I see someone favorite a certain Tweet, it almost changes my perception of them a little and makes me look further into differing viewpoints – a virtual rabbit hole. All in all, I wouldn’t say my perception of the media changes, but I could see how it subliminally exposes me to different topics or ideas and can potentially change my perception of those on my online community.

    I think this relates to agricultural literacy in the way that we all build online communities, sometimes with not very broad or varied audiences. I’m as guilty as anyone who typically follows those with similar viewpoints or interest that I would find entertaining and useful. In general, I think it could be beneficial for online agricultural medias to branch out and take that initial step of following (in the case of Twitter) someone to initiate that relationship and start that conversation. As a previous intern of a social media page with many different-viewed followers, it can be easy to get caught up in catering to those people and only caring about setting them straight. When really, we should be focusing on the, for lack of better term, average consumer or those in the middle. I think by starting there, maybe there’s other people like me, who see differing viewpoints by things that pop up on my newsfeed. It could be a way to build a virtual community and be exposed to new ideas.

    Another theory that could have implications for this study and food crises is the uses and effects theory. If we could understand what people are looking for when they are actively seeking out information, maybe we could better give them the information they want from a reliable source. I think it would also be useful to include how they want to hear about it the information they want. As communicators in today’ agricultural community, I feel that we are moving back toward the face to face communication and that one on one interaction. Is this a good move and what consumers want or just what we think they want? Would they rather still have the basics of their information be easily accessible online? Through videos? I think all too often we assume what consumers want and how they want it and it would be beneficial to add in these aspects to future studies.

    The Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani article focused on the framing but more importantly how the receiver interpreted it versus the Barr, Irlbeck, and Akers article that reviewed coverage of agricultural stories. For future research projects, I would take into consideration the areas of improvement they suggested, as well as add other aspects like mediums of the messages. As previously mentioned in my post, I think it’s important to keep that in mind when considering what consumers want to see – where do they want to see it and what format.

      1. Hi Anissa,

        Though I hadn’t thought about it for this assignment, your example of seeing others’ activity on Twitter or Facebook does have subliminal effects. I find myself more interested in a product or page if someone I know likes it or shares information about it. For example, I have a friend who trains dogs. If she shares or likes a post about a specific brand of dog leash, I am much more likely to think about researching that leash myself. It’s informal advertising and it catches us all.

        Your point about the agricultural communications community moving back toward face-to-face communication is interesting. I hadn’t thought extensively about face-to-face communication being possible in our technology-loving world, but we are more interested in seeing people in videos or photos on social media or just the internet and we have that capability. Even more, we carry technology around in our pockets or purses that allows us to watch videos or even video chat almost anywhere. Though it’s not a new concept to me, you made me think and I agree that it’s important for agricultural communicators to remember the consumer’s wants and also in what format information should be available.

        -Deanna

  8. As we all know, media plays a huge role in our lives today. Because of this, media side effects impact us in many different ways. I recently searched for information about genetically modified crops on the Internet. I was looking for information about a documentary and ended up reading online news articles about both the film and genetic modification. My quick search turned into deeper reading about not only the genetic modification process but also the GMO debate.

    I was surprised when I realized that I had spent more time than I meant to looking at articles and websites. I had also been diverted from my original goal of finding the website for the film. Through ads and links in articles, I meandered away from my primary search and ended up reading about organic businesses and products, among other things.

    While I don’t think that I was impacted subliminally by this particular search, I could see how a person could be. On many of the websites I visited, there were lots of ads. Most of the time, I ignore them, but I have found myself experiencing a bit of deja-vu when I come across an ad that I think I’m seeing for the first time. It seems familiar even though I don’t remember seeing it before. I think this is a subliminal effect that allows advertisers to make even more sales.

    During my genetic engineering search, I ran across many articles with links to other articles in them. I was curious, so I clicked on many of the links just to see where they took me. In doing this, I learned new things and got much deeper into my search than I had intended. I started out reading a New York Times article and ended up on several completely different websites.

    I think that agricultural articles can use this linking technique, not to trap people, but to help them learn more about related topics. I have seen very few online agricultural articles that have links to other articles or websites in them but I see entertainment and news articles that seem to hotlink every other word. I think that agricultural organizations should use this feature to both allow readers to research and learn more and to create a network of resources that are all connected through links for anyone who wants to know more about agricultural topics.

    Exemplar theory can be applied to this by finding and using examples of agricultural events or producers to shape the public’s opinion. This theory is often used in negative news stories, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be adapted to help portray agriculture positively. In the same way, agenda-setting and framing theories can and should be used to raise agricultural awareness. By linking many different websites and articles together that are framed to emphasize agriculture, readers have a greater chance of seeing and learning about issues in agriculture. As agenda-setting theory states, the more often people hear or see a story, the more likely it is to impact them.

    While I think that framing theory was the best for the study on the Salmonella food crisis, agenda-setting theory could also be applied. The Salmonella issue and resulting crisis were very popular stories in the media and consumers were greatly impacted by the events. Even years later, when Salmonella is mentioned people shudder because it was so heavily covered and everyone was familiar with the issue in some way. As we read in the two articles about the 2008 Salmonella outbreak, the media was initially wrong about what food was contaminated. Though it was eventually reported that peppers were the real cause, public opinion had already hurt the tomato market. Agenda-setting may not be as influential in Internet media as framing theory but I still think it fits this study well. Cultivation theory looks at the effects of media on viewers’ beliefs, behaviors, and values. I think this theory could also be applied to this study to see how the Salmonella crises impacted television viewers.

    The Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani study looked at framing theory from the consumer’s point of view. The study by Barr et al. focused on how reporters and media outlets framed the Salmonella outbreak news. If I were to conduct a follow-up study on framing in the agricultural industry, I would research how consumers perceive messages that have been framed to promote agriculture. I think it would be interesting to see how perceptions differ in various parts of the United States so I would look at geographically and demographically different places. I would use the uses and gratifications theory to see if people who are actively looking for the media and information they consume have a positive or negative view of the messages.

  9. To me I use the media as a form of entertainment to unwind and destress from my day, the most popular form of media that fits into my daily routine is facebook and twitter. The media does affect me significantly and sometimes causes me to question my own beliefs as it can be incredibly persuading, but not always factually accurate. Some subliminal effects I have experienced is when I encounter memes on social media regarding GMO’s. These memes are often times negative regarding GMOs and I have to admit they often times leave me questioning my own beliefs about GMO’s, even though a majority of the time they are not accurate. These questions have made me realize just how easy it is for someone to be persuaded on a topic especially when it is hard for them to find accurate information. I can understand why people have a negative response to GMO’s because it is so easy to find negative information about it. You walk into the grocery store and merely everything is labeled “NON GMO”, even though there are only ten products that have been genetically modified but that is a whole other discussion. Basically my point here is people think that when the purchase an item from the store such as grapes and it says NON GMO product they are led to believe they are avoiding a GMO product by purchasing that product. To me this is false advertising but most consumers don’t know this. Grapes have never been genetically modified so how is it fair to label it as a non GMO product. My biggest issue is that people look for the easy way out, most people are unaware of the fact that only 10 products have been genetically modified but find it detrimental to purchase products that are strictly labeled as Non GMO.
    Something that really stood out to me from one of articles in this week’s readings is, “In 1988, the National Research Council found that “Most Americans know very little about agriculture, its social and economic significance in the United States, and particularly, its links to human health and environmental quality.” I was recently involved in two very interesting conversations with some of my neighbors, the first conversation occurred while my neighbor was cooking steaks over the grill for dinner and I was telling her all about my brothers new butcher shop that recently opened up on our farm. I was very excited that this shop will feature meat from the animals that are raised on our farm. My neighbors reaction to this I will never forget, she told me that she thinks it is incredibly mean that we raise our animals for meat. Another conversation that I had was when I offered my neighbor eggs freshly picked from our chicken coop, she told me that she could not eat eggs from a chicken coop. I was very confused and at a loss for words from this statement. I really enjoyed this week’s reading as it touched on topics that I am extremely passionate about. Being one of the only active farms left in my County I feel as though the general public is drifting away from agriculture, I feel very strongly about continuing to educate the public about where their food comes from, I think that when people are not educated on a subject fully that is when they often make irrational statements such as the ones I experienced. An example from the one of the readings that can support my thoughts is, “Today, less than 2% of the working U.S. population is employed in an agricultural field. Additionally, well under 5% of the U.S. population now lives on a farm, while around only 20% of the population lives in a rural area (Dimitri et al., 2005). The widening gap between those who produce and consume agricultural products has sometimes led to differing views between those who have an agricultural background and those who do not.”
    Currently the major concerns in agriculture in regards to the general public is food security, people find comfort in knowing that the food that they are eating is safe. Often times when agriculture gets a negative image it is stemmed from a food safety concern.
    To me the exemplar theory which is an approach of categorization in psychology, is a great way to address concerns of agriculture literacy to the general public. With this theory individuals can make decisions by comparing new examples with examples that are already present in their mind.
    The article by Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani focused attention on the fact that it is essential to elude from creating messages that may be miscomprehended by the general public. If I were to conduct a follow up study I would use the uses and effects theory, and this study would be focused on an agricultural organizations reputation and their products. I think that this study would piggy back off of Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani which focused on how the audience interpreted messages.

    -Leah

    1. Hi, Leah!

      First, I can totally relate to those interactions that you have had with your neighbors. I have had those conversations with people myself- and I too was dumbfounded with some of the reasons that people choose to/or not to consume or purchase things. I also have chickens and frequently get concern from people about our eggs, while they have never had any questions about the eggs that they purchase from the store. The behavior changes that are caused by subliminal messaging, such as the NON-GMO labels on products that do not actually have GMO varieties are a cause for concern for our industry. I found the theories in this week’s reading to explain just how powerful of an influence the media can be for consumers- ourselves included!
      -Hannah

  10. I have met many people, some close friends and others acquaintances, who purchase foods or other products only with certain words or labels (i.e. USDA organic, Non-GMO project, etc) but when directly asked why it is that they seek out those products, they do not have a clear answer. I can see how these behavior changes, such as looking for certain words or labels on food products, could be caused from subliminal media messages. Perhaps it is because you heard an ad that featured a mother exclusively feeding her family these products, or maybe a celebrity endorsement. The theories in this chapter reinforced the fact that these subliminal media messages are actually causing behavior changes, whether they be positive or negative for agriculture. It is important to recognize that, and use these theories to our advantage as agricultural communicators. Perhaps it is putting a positive frame on a pro-ag story, or being sure that agriculture IS on the media’s agenda (in a positive and accurate way).

    One theory from this week’s reading that could potentially have implications for the study or those of food crises is the spiral of silence theory. According to this theory, media can have a tendency to present only one (or two) sides of an issue while excluding others. If these viewpoints continue to be ignored, people can become reluctant to talk about them. This theory is important for working to shift a public opinion of an agricultural topic, especially during a time of food crises.

    The Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Iranin article looked at how the audience interpreted messages, and how these messages can be miscomprehended using the framing theory. If I were to conduct a follow up study, I would use the diffusion theory to guide my work. I would like to study the post-food crises behavior changes of the audience and compare the different behavior changes with different media usages.
    -Hannah

Leave a Reply