CNN and YouTube
Lot’s of people are a bit gaga over the CNN/YouTube Presidential debate. Even Slate’s curmudgeonly Kausfiles can only criticize CNN for not going far enough in giving the YouTubers free reign.
So it’s good, if depressing, to see this Washington Post article on a digital divide that is not getting smaller, but is growing. It reminds us that this new form of questioning, while reducing slightly the media’s power as gatekeeper, does nothing to weaken the role of income and class in keeping the riff-raff from asking embarrassing questions.
In fact the very real democratizing possibilities of the web have always been limited by a dovetailing of American’s long-held love for the latest technology with online advertiser's desire to target the upper half of the economic food chain.
News media began expanding their video content long before many people had the capacity to view it easily. They did so because advertisers wanted their products to be seen in that context. What the advertisers got were viewers who were younger (and, they hoped, more impressionable) and those who were likely to have a higher average income than the folks who were limited by phone modems or who had no access at all. Although broadband access has expanded greatly since then, the Post article reminds us that there remains a broad swath of the population that is simply cut out.
CNN has found a great way to be cool for a day. YouTube gets more exposure in the adult world. Advertisers sell products. And if you can’t afford the internet—or if you live out in the sticks--maybe you can see highlights later.
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