|Broadband and cell coverage (click image to enlarge)|
"This project takes an effective look—broad and deep—at the kind of digital access so many people take for granted. Breaking the series into past/present, current workarounds and what's next was very effective," judges said. "The writing is detailed and clear; the voices do an able job at helping the reporter tell the story."
Fifteen years ago Sprint proposed erecting seven towers and five years ago AT&T proposed a project that would have provided coverage to about another 20 percent of the county’s households, Randy Rieland reported in the first story in the series. Neither panned out and "the result is that today cell and broadband service in Rappahannock is not much different than it was 15 years ago."
|Rappahannock County (Wikipedia map)|
The third story by Rieland, looked at the future, and examineed a 2016 county-wide survey sent to every household—that got an unprecedented 42 percent response rate (1,362 out of 3,258)—that found that the top two issues of concern, not surprisingly, were internet service and cell phone coverage. The survey and Rieland's work were funded by the Foothills Forum, a local non-profit that also funded a summer intern to work on series reporting team, which also included the group's chair, Larry "Bud" Meyer" and the chair of the group's advisory committee, former Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander.