Rural Press Club call for action against data drought

THE digital revolution in news is here to stay and so is the data drought.

That was the general consensus from a Rural Press Club discussion recently which highlighted the changing platforms from which rural, regional and remote Queensland audiences consume news.

President Brendan Egan said while news services were adapting to both audiences by still offering a printed newspaper and online news, rural communities were increasingly looking to the internet to stay informed.

"Obviously with the digital revolution that's going on many people are getting their news first online and people are online all day it seems whether a news service they subscribe to or Google, or YouTube or Facebook to first hear about a news story or breaking news," Mr Egan said.

He said poor telecommunications, or the data drought, in rural areas was putting pressure on the delivery and consumption of news.

"It's about changing with the times, obviously digital, online, social media, they are all things that are happening both in the cities and the bush," he said.

"However one of the big challenges that may be different is the data drought in rural and regional Queensland," he said.

"The internet access isn't quite there yet and that's been a big frustration not only for rural people to get their news but also people are running businesses and this has been one of the frustrations and ongoing debate about the need to improve telecommunications infrastructure in the bush so that rural people can run their business but also obviously consume news online the same way you do if you were living in the city."

Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer Dr Lee Duffield said the NBN was a vital asset to delivering news in rural centres.

"The NBN needs to be watched very carefully throughout rural and regional Australia," Dr Duffield said.

"As it's more valuable than a lot of the physical infrastructure that has gone in, the beef roads and the development roads and so on," he said.

"It's very immaterial and crucially important that the NBN should go ahead and deliver full service.

"There's optimism, there is an optimistic outlook but I think it is a time of change and everybody has to get out of their own way and adjust to their change ."

The discussion board

ABC Landline Caitlyn Gribbin

Queensland Country Life editor Penelope Arthur

ABC's regional editor Cathie Schnitzerling

QUT senior journalism lecturer Dr Lee Duffield