Press Room

Digital Divide Resources and Experts Now Available from the National Communication Association

October 9, 2014
Experts Available
Technology
Washington, DC  -  Not long after the World Wide Web gained acceptance by the general public in the early 1990s, scholars, policy makers, and others detected significant discrepancies in use among different groups of people. Dubbed the “digital divide,” the gaps in usage were especially significant along socioeconomic and racial/ethnic lines. While the digital divide has narrowed as technologies become ubiquitous throughout society, discrepancies still exist.

 The causes that separate the digital haves from the have-nots have changed over time. Research indicates that the gap is now likely to be skills-based, meaning that a lack of knowledge about how to use computers or the information and services found online prevents people from enjoying the benefits of information communication technology. Research also indicates that the biggest knowledge and usage gaps are found between economic classes, age cohorts, education levels, and geographic areas.

 The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) 2014 proposal for a two-tiered system to handle Internet traffic may impact the digital divide. Supported by Internet service providers (ISPs), the proposal to effectively eliminate net neutrality by allowing ISPs to charge different rates for slow and fast download speeds has met with significant resistance from content providers and the public. In fact, the FCC has received nearly 4 million comments on its proposal, and the vast majority of these comments have been negative.

 To aid journalists in reporting on the digital divide, NCA has put together a brief press kit on the history of the divide, including summaries and links to legislation, regulations, academic articles, reports, and other resources. In addition, the following Communication scholars, who are also experts on the digital divide, are available for interviews:

Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark
Professor and Chair, Department of Media Film and Journalism Studies
Director, Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media
University of Denver

Dr. Eszter Hargittai
Delaney Family Professor
Communication Studies Department
Northwestern University

Dr. Seong-Jae MinClark
Department of Communication StudiesClark
Pace University

Dr. Sharon StroverClark
Philip G. Warner Regents Professor
University of Texas at Austin

As the largest national association representing Communication scholars, teachers, and practitioners, the National Communication Association (NCA) is firmly committed to the goal of fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, including via electronic resources. In 1999, the association adopted a resolution addressing the digital divide, and updated the resolution in 2013.

About the National Communication Association

The National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

For more information, visit natcom.org, follow us on Twitter at @natcomm, and find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalCommunicationAssociation.