Newspaper is for More than Fetching or Piddling on in the Country
Many people in the big cities think that traditional media is already dead.
What I’ve learned from living in the country is that it may be gasping for air in the city, but traditional media is alive and well in rural America.
The power of local traditional media was brought home a couple of weeks ago when my husband heard about those two lost Jack Russell Terriers on a popular daily local radio program.
Thanks to that program, the two dogs were home within a day.
This morning, while scanning the Lost and Found section of the classifieds, I realized the local media had brought home another dog, only according to the ad, this wasn’t a happy ending for the dog or his family.
For a few days, a Lost ad had been running with the photo of a beautiful 4-year-old red and white Australian Shepherd.
This morning, the ad changed to “Reward for information leading to the person(s) responsible for shooting our family dog,” with a photo of the same dog that was classified as “lost” in the previous days paper.
The new ad read that the dog, although wearing a collar, had been shot and dumped a ways from where the previous ad said it was lost. One can only assume someone found the dog’s body, recognized it from the Lost ad and notified the owner so they would know what happened to their beloved pet.
I’m not sure this would have happened in the city anymore. People I know in the cities now first turn to the Internet, launching Craig’s List ads and social media campaigns on Facebook to find pets. (We only recently started showing results for a local Craig’s List and Angie’s List does not yet exist here).
I’ve always said that our area is probably a good decade behind the urban areas of the U.S. in terms of technology. I know that our cell phone tower just recently upgraded to 3G when most of the populated areas of the country are on 4G already. We also just got very slow (probably early 2000-era) DSL that finally saved me from that cracking and whining sound of dial up.
It doesn’t allow for movie or television streaming, unless we have a full day to wait for it to download and even those short funny cat videos halt and start, stealing a few extra minutes from my breaks from work. And we only got it now because of a long, complicated story that involved me threatening our rural telephone company with a complaint to the FCC because they were bringing the lines to our neighbors and not us, but at least it isn’t dial up.
As for the newspapers, it isn’t as if the budget cuts affecting papers all over the country through the few publishing companies that still hold the news medium, hasn’t affected ours.
We only have one locally owned weekly paper that covers our county and most of the space in it is still dedicated to locally written gossip columns (guess who showed up at the church garage sale this week from far-off New York!?) and high school sports.
The larger daily – the one most people turn to for actual news – is in the next, larger county. It is owned by one of the huge publishing giants that hold most of the papers still in operation. Therefore, it covers most news outside of our two small closest towns (I was, at one time covering the government and school beat for this county, but that was cut from their budget last year). They still do have coverage, but it doesn’t allow for many features or non-hard news items from here.
Even so, it is the newspaper and radio we still turn to for “local” news and yes, even as I sit at my computer each day, I still typically pull out our small rural print phone book before I think to look up a telephone number on the Internet.
I suspect lower than average wages in rural communities have as much to do with the survival of local radio and newspaper in the country as do the slow Internet connections.
It will still be awhile before we, or our neighbors think to turn to the Internet before anything else, and that’s ok with us.
How long has it been since you used a print phone book or held a “real” newspaper in your hands?