Is the Digital Divide in Rural America Because of News?

Small Town America, the true backbone of our country is quickly falling behind the Digital Divide in using New Media and Social Networks for business- is part of it because of lack of news coverage?  I have been finding that there is little to no coverage of Tech & Social Media in small town America and I am starting to believe this is one reason many small town businesses, organizations and local government have so little understanding of Technology and using this as a tool for communication and marketing…

So often those in large or major cities take for granted what they have around them…
Until they get a flat tire while on vacation out in the country and don’t get reception for their cell phones, or try to ask where an internet café is while on vacation…

Many small towns don’t have a large magazine/newspaper shop to buy Tech Magazines or an Internet Cafe…  Yes it is covered in many Business and Tech magazines and hard to ignore, but if you don’t have those magazines articles to read, it is hard to know about it…  Yes it is covered some on TV news; they refer to it almost every day now…  Many watch the nightly news while families are sitting having supper…  But do they really talk much about the Internet relating to business and how it can help?

In many small towns, the local café or restaurant is a main gathering point for small business owners…  Read the local newspaper, have a coffee, talk some with fellow business people, then go to work, then stop back for lunch or maybe supper on the way home if there is carry out…  If that local Newspaper doesn’t have a section that talks about Technology, what news of Technology or Social Media’s with it’s use in business is a small town local business person going to hear about?

It isn’t like the local Walmart has a good Tech magazine or book area…  And lets be honest, how many small business people really read much about Technology in Small Town America?  In my home town without a stoplight, if I ask local Business Owners if they use Social Media for their Business and ask if they have a website, many don’t even have an e-mail account, let alone know how to add an attachment to it…  They are business owners just trying to keep their heads above water in making enough money to get by month to month as if they are still using the same methods of marketing as where used in the 50’s-70’s…

Small Town America tends to be way behind the curve for cable TV in the past- now they are struggling to even attempt to catch up with Cable Companies offering this new found information technology…  Even now, many in rural areas still don’t have cable or DSL as a choice to get online…  A friend of mine on Twitter said that 26% of America still doesn’t have high bandwidth as a choice, with dial-up being their only method of getting online…

Recently I wrote to ask some local Newspapers if they might be interested in my reporting about some of the largest New and Social Media Conferences in the country, and they just weren’t interested…  I offered to interview some of the best people in Social Media and Marketing online adding the use of Twitter and Facebook for Business… Two of the newspapers are part of the Gannett News conglomerate and they where just going to rely on the reporters the Gannett News has covering the Event…  So there will be no articles about these major business marketing and advertising conferences or the people that are respected in the industry they considered to be news worthy for their readers in Social Media…  So much for local news papers informing their readers…

I am sure from reading this newspaper my whole life, an article might be printed of the numbers of people and a few tech devices that where the buzz of the convention, but nothing about how it could help small town business…  Doing a search I wasn’t able to find any mentions of the large Social Media Events like South by South West Conference or Blogworld Expo- two of the largest New Media and Social Media Conferences in the country…  So Small Town America near me received no news to read about these events…

There has been no articles about how 54% of Business Websites get more sales if they have a Blog connected to their website…  Only articles about user base is reported of major Social Media services like FaceBook or Twitter, but even that is rarely covered in small town newspapers…  There was nothing about Foursquare or Gowalla- location-based social networking services covered in the local newspapers in my area in…

One such newspaper in a city that has over 30,000 College students in it and a county population of 101,136 people…  I just did a search in this local city newspaper 20 miles from my town, where close to half my town population works…  I searches for the words “Social Media” and got a result of 9 articles with these words in it in the past year…  Twitter had 19 articles and 46 articles with Facebook in them, the iPad had three articles, the iPhone had eight articles- these words where searched in their archives over the last year…  So with so few articles and many having only a reference to someone else using Social Media, how do small Business Owners learn about this amazing form of Marketing, Advertising and Communications and E-Commerce?

So maybe part of the problem of the Digital Divide in Small Town America is really the lack of news coverage the local news agencies give to Social Media and what news the local Business owners receive… With local News not covering Social Media, it is costing our local Businesses the needed information about using New Media in business, costing them jobs and money…

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