Internet increases an ideological gap


Thanks to Carol Walsh for the heads up on an interesting article on a new digital divide of sorts, mentioned in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that is increasing separating folks of different political persuasions. And as reported in the article, the Internet has necessarily created the gap, but it has helped to widen it…

“The Internet is a medium that should allow us to embrace and make sense of complexity better than anything else we’ve had before — we’re not limited to 10-second soundbites,” says [assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications Seth] Lewis. “We still haven’t quite figured out how to make this medium really work in the way that it could.”
“We are so in the infancy in understanding the impact of digital democracy,” says [director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism ] Rosenstiel, who describes today’s era on the Web as “sort of the early 1930s in the history of radio.”

The Internet is only a tool; it’s what we do with it that counts. It can just as easily unite us as it can divide us.

On a similar vein, Jeremy Iggers sent me a heads up on the FCC’s Report on The Information Needs of Communities

Yet, in part because of the digital revolution, serious problems have arisen, as well. Most significant among them: in many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting. This is likely to lead to the kinds of problems that are, not surprisingly, associated with a lack of accountability—more government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools, and other serious community problems. The independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism—going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy—is in some cases at risk at the local level.

The report stresses…

An abundance of media outlets does not translate into an abundance of reporting. In many communities, there are now more outlets, but less local accountability reporting.

As the first article points out, the new media and Internet is in its infancy, maybe as it matures the accountability will increase leading perhaps to a call back to shared facts and increased attention/access to community news.

The Twin Cities is home to two events this weekend that I’m sure will try to tackle this issue and more: Netroots Nation and RightOnline.