Digital technologies are changing the way we talk to one another and the way organisations and politicians communicate with citizens. But digital does not necessarily mean better understanding. In a new Nordicom anthology, researchers from across Europe explore new inequalities created by the digital transformation.
The book Digital Media Inequalities. Policies Against Divides, Distrust and Discrimination, edited by professor Josef Trappel, is a collective effort of the members of the (EMRG), a group of scholars from 20 European countries that meet to discuss and exchange observations about changes in media policy and performance across Europe.
One such observation made by the group in 2014 was of a paradigmatic shift: from early enthusiasm about more equality, democracy and participation delivered by new technologies, to a more problem-oriented evaluation. That was the starting point for this book.
– We decided to write a book about digital media inequalities because we consider digital communication as a source of more inequalities and disinformation today, which in turn challenges contemporary democracies, explains Trappel.
More critical reflection needed
Josef Trappel is Professor of Media Policy and Media Economics at the University of Salzburg and one of the chairs of the Euromedia Research Group. He and the other members believe that there is a need for more critical reflection on the transformations of digital communication. In this book, they identify various benefits and challenges associated with the digital communication transformation.
– Global corporations such as Google and Facebook have defined the way we communicate. Their definition is market- and profit-driven, while contemporary democracies might require community-based tools to function properly.
A need for policy and regulation
In order to make media more equal, Trappel concludes that we need to move away from the old way of thinking of digital communication as a global issue that we have no means to regulate. This must be replaced by self-confident governance and policy paradigms. Some countries have started their own initiatives to address occurring inequalities—but more is needed.
– We need policy and regulation in order to make the digital world a better place, Trappel states.
The book is recommended to students of communication studies, political science and sociology and to scholars, politicians and activists in the field of communication and communication policy.