Sunday, January 06, 2013

NOLA Times-Picayune on 60 Minutes

The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s 2012 move to three-day-a-week publication and increased emphasis on 24-7 news coverage on its website was the subject of a story on Sunday’s (Jan. 6) edition of “60 Minutes.

According to the Paper “The Times-Picayune’s parent company, privately held Advance Publications, announced the changes, which included staffing cutbacks and a corporate restructuring, in May. The publishing schedule of three days a week – with an early Sunday edition distributed on Saturday, day-after tabloid coverage of New Orleans Saints games and special holiday issues – began in October.”

As I watched the program, I was very impressed with the outpouring of community support for a daily paper. While each interest group had their own concerns, the lack of high-speed internet access is a major, yet understated problem, was a common denominator.

According to a new report by the Federal Communications Commission, about 19 million Americans still have no access to high-speed Internet. About 14.5 million of those without access, or about 5 percent of the total population, live in rural areas, where Internet providers do not offer service because "there is no business case to offer broadband.”

Nearly a third of residents on tribal lands lack access to DSL or cable broadband and about 80 percent of schools and libraries receiving federal funding for Internet service say their connections “do not fully meet their needs," according to the report.

It is more than about just access, however. Only 40 percent of Americans who have access to DSL or cable Internet service actually use them. Those who don’t get high-speed internet list the following reasons: lack of affordability, a lack of digital literacy, and “a perception that the Internet is not relevant or useful to them,” according to the FCC report.

How does this bode for informing the public on an all-digital format? Not much I fear.

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