While going through our blogroll today, I came across an interesting post over at The Rural Blog from the University of Kentucky. The blog posted about a report from Calix, a telecommunications company specializing in equipment and software for broadband and fiber optic communication. The report, the “U.S. Rural Broadband Report,” found that most downloaded data by computers in rural areas was video streaming, particularly from Netflix and YouTube. Uploaded, or “upstream,” traffic for rural computers was mostly business-related. The report also identified the most common sources of Internet traffic in different parts of the country.
Since the report was apparently the first of its kind, there are probably certain limitations to the study. However, it does provide us with an idea of what type of information rural residents are seeking from the Internet. And since West Virginia is a rural state, the information from this study is valuable to the telecommunication and media industries in this state. For journalists, the report could indicate that we need to begin getting involved more in video media, if that’s what our audience is seeking.
However, it’s also critical to note that while yes, video is the largest portion of “downstreamed” data for rural areas, those videos are most likely not news stories, since the vast majority of video streamed (80 percent of all video) is from Netflix and YouTube. That important clarification is likely the result of rural areas being poorer and having less access to media when compared with urban and suburban areas. For example, because Netflix is much cheaper than ordering any movie channels via cable or satellite, lower-income residents are much more likely to use Netflix as a service over traditional means of getting television and movies.
Still, one other finding I noticed through the Calix report is that rural residents that have broadband capability are widely using the Internet for video streaming, which I had assumed would be less so for these areas. So while this study is limited in scope, it does provide a base for which we, as rural journalists, can use to plan ahead for how our audiences are willing to receive their news.
The WV Uncovered Blog is designed to engage discussion on both the project’s upcoming assignments, and to question the strategies we, as journalists, use to tell people’s stories.Subscribe to the RSS feed