chapter  3
12 Pages

Advocacy and Infrastructure: Community newspapers, ethics and information needs

WithKathleen Bartzen Culver

In 2011, hospital patients in tiny Ladysmith, Wisconsin, could have been adversely affected by a simplistic political battle over a complicated technological system. And if they read only their local newspaper, they did not know a thing about it. Ladysmith (population: 3383) and its Rusk County Memorial Hospital sit in rural northwest Wisconsin, a state that ranked a paltry 43rd in the nation for broadband connectivity at the time. The state’s sprawling glacial landscape-immense farmlands and vast timber forests-makes the laying of cable and fiber for telecommunications an unwieldy and expensive challenge. In a world of high-definition, on-demand streaming video, many of the state’s rural communities were left far behind. Still, Rusk County Memorial Hospital had found a way to broadband connectivity that gave it the capacity for advanced digital imaging and diagnostics both locally and with partner clinics hundreds of miles away. As a member of WiscNet, the state’s research and education network, the hospital gained connectivity to the internet and collaboration with similar organizations.