RS 1: New Orleans

How the digital divide developed in New Orleans & what that means for the future of news there

The article is written by Tracie Powell and begins by stating that in September of 2012, New Orleans became the largest city without a daily newspaper which made the residents some of the most disconnected in the country because only fifty percent of New Orleans had broadband internet service connections. “Those who had connections were mainly white and in higher income brackets” (Powell 4). Then on page one Powell goes on to discuss the implications of those without internet, how they would be even more disadvantaged, and what they would have to do to get information. She states, “It’s harder to profit from the investment in broadband infrastructure in rural areas where fewer residents live further apart. Among poorer residents, broadband – and even newspaper subscriptions – tend to be luxuries for job seekers or people who are still trying to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina nearly seven years ago” (4). “The Picayune’s decision to print only three days a week means fewer newspapers will get passed around local barber shops, beauty salons, cafes and convenience stores— places where many people who don’t have broadband access at home often go to exchange information about what’s happening in their neighborhoods” (Powell 5). Next, she states how there are more concerns about the business aspect of printing the newspaper three days a week than how citizens of New Orleans are going to get important information if not online (Powell 5). She makes the argument that less fortunate residents are still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina which was, at that time, over seven years ago (Powell 9). Her argument is still true to this day fourteen years later. Next, she goes on to discuss the politics involved in this decision. She states that business executives and public officials support policies that favor telecommunication industries rather than making broadband more affordable (Powell 10). This has made New Orleans one of the most digitally divided cities in the country. This large divide is mainly due to policies that minimize competition for telecommunication companies, which keeps broadband prices artificially inflated and incredibly out of reach for poorer residents (Powell 10). Finally, she talks about a city in Louisiana, Lafayette, where only one municipal broadband network exists. On page eleven Powell states that, “the town’s municipal network offers cheaper service and is now listed as one of the fastest in the country”.

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