The Digital Divide in New Orleans

In class, we’ve been talking a lot about the digital divide as an international issue, but it also hits home right here in New Orleans. As most of you know the Times-Picayune now only prints three times a week, making New Orleans the largest city without a daily newspaper. This means that four days a week, the only way for people in New Orleans to read the news is online. Unfortunately, there is a great digital divide in New Orleans and many people don’t have internet access in their homes. As a result, many in New Orleans, especially lower income people, are becoming less informed about important local and international events because of a lack of access to the news.

For many poorer people broadband access is a luxury. Matt Davis of The Lens, a nonprofit journalism organization writes that “Poorer, more African American areas of New Orleans, such as the Lower 9th Ward, have broadband subscription rates between 0 and 40 percent,” meaning that the majority of poor African Americans in New Orleans now have very little access to the news. Tracie Powell on pointer.org explains that lack of broadband access is not only an affordability issue but also a policy issue in New Orleans. Powell states that “policy decisions made by lawmakers in the state minimize competition, which in turn helps keep prices of broadband artificially inflated and out of reach for poorer residents.”

“Lack of access” is a familiar statement when discussing poorer African American neighborhoods in New Orleans. For instance many neighborhoods in New Orleans are known as food deserts because they lack access to a grocery store that sells produce and healthy food. Many consider issues such as the digital divide and food deserts to be a form of racism because they primarily put African Americans at a disadvantage. Both of these examples definitely perpetuate poverty. The digital divide in New Orleans now means that residents who can’t afford broadband are less likely to make informed decisions at the polls about issues that directly affect them since they now no longer have an easy way to read about local and national politics. The digital divide is clearly a dimension of poverty and should be addressed in order to make New Orleans a more informed city.

Tracie Powell’s article on the digital divide in New Orleans can be found here

In class, we’ve been talking a lot about the digital divide as an international issue, but it also hit home right here in New Orleans. As most of you know the Times-Picayune now only prints three times a week, making New Orleans the largest city without a daily newspaper. This means that four days a week, the only way for people in New Orleans to read the news is online. Unfortunately, there is a great digital divide in New Orleans and many people don’t have internet access in their homes. As a result, many in New Orleans, especially lower income people are becoming less informed about important local and international events because of a lack of access to the news.

For many poorer people broadband access is a luxury. Matt Davis of The Lens, a nonprofit journalism organization writes that “Poorer, more African American areas of New Orleans, such as the Lower 9th Ward, have broadband subscription rates between 0 and 40 percent,” meaning that the majority of poor African Americans in New Orleans now have very little access to the news. Tracie Powell on pointer.org explains that lack of broadband access is not only an affordability issue but also a policy issue in New Orleans. Powell states that “policy decisions made by lawmakers in the state that minimize competition, which in turn helps keep prices of broadband artificially inflated and out of reach for poorer residents.”

“Lack of access” is a familiar statement when discussing poorer African American neighborhoods in New Orleans. For instance many neighborhoods in New Orleans are known as food deserts because they lack access to a grocery that sells produce and healthy food. Many consider issues such as the digital divide and food deserts as a form of racism because they primarily put African Americans at a disadvantage. Both of these examples definitely perpetuate poverty. The digital divide in New Orleans now means that residents who can’t afford broadband are less likely to make informed decisions at the polls about issues that directly affect them since they now no longer have an easy way to read about local and national politics. The digital divide is clearly a dimension of poverty and should be addressed in order to make New Orleans a more informed city.

Tracie Powell’s article on the digital divide in New Orleans can be found here http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/making-sense-of-news/178094/how-the-digital-divide-developed-in-new-orleans-what-that-means-for-the-future-of-news-there/

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One response to “The Digital Divide in New Orleans

  • fiftakesmaroc

    I completely agree. From my work with various non-profits in the community, I have definitely sensed the challenges the digital divides presents to many of the residents here. It seems the lack of broadband plays a role in the stagnation of these neighborhoods, as more Internet access would empower residents to build online communities and use online resources to find innovative ways to improve even the most trivial parts of their lives and neighborhood.

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