As a first semester master’s student in agricultural communications, I have discovered more about the career field than realized I would in the first two weeks. The most important part of the discovery was the role that agricultural communicators play in the bigger picture. Not only should we be considered communicators, but also scientists, translators, journalists, and ethical decision makers.
How can agricultural communications be significantly different from journalism? For some people, and for those who have never even thought of such a question, the difference may not seem very significant. However, while reading through the Nexus Points given in the “Agricultural Communications: Changes and Challenges,” the answer to this question became more obvious—a scientific background.
As agriculturalists, most of us understand the production process and the science behind both the historical and modern methods of crop and food animal production. For this reason, it is important for us to be able to communicate that science on a level that is understandable to the consumer that was raised in urban areas with little or no agricultural background. We need to act as translators for the agricultural producer to the public.
In Dr. Angel Riggs’s class earlier this semester, she presented a short video about Alan Alda, an actor on the 1970s TV show “M*A*S*H.” The video explained about a program that Alda was leading that specialized in workshops held for medical students and scientists to help them understand how to communicate their ideas and knowledge to the ordinary people. Alda’s acting experience on the TV show as a medical doctor had given him a gift of how to transform difficult medical jargon into everyday language that even a child could comprehend. The key to communication is to be able to connect to a person to find a common link. In the same way, we need to be able communicate our science-based agricultural knowledge to the consumer through communications, whether it be through magazine articles, presentations, social media, or even...