Desert Work: Life and Labor in a News and Broadband Desert

Nick Mathews, Christopher Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study offers a systematic qualitative investigation inside a news and broadband desert. Despite popular attention to the ramifications of limitations of local news and internet access, most recently and acutely during the coronavirus pandemic, there has been no scholarly research into communities where these two deserts overlap. This article confronts this gap. Built on 19 in-depth interviews with residents of a rural East Coast county in the United States, we argue that life in a news and broadband desert requires a substantial amount of labor to obtain the local information and connectivity many take for granted. Our findings demonstrate three areas of increased labor: (1) informational, (2) infrastructural and (3) emotional. Ultimately, this study illuminates how these three aspects of labor and two deserts overlay on one location, highlighting the inequalities faced by those in such a difficult, demanding and, often, disheartening environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-747
Number of pages21
JournalMass Communication and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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