Communications in a global age: This is the name of one of the courses I am teaching at Elon University this semester, and the topic cannot be more relevant.
On one hand, technology adoption rates are the fastest in history. In fact, more than 50 percent of the content online is accessed through mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.). On the other hand, local news and specialized publications are still very much needed to understand our closest environment.
In Alamance County, North Carolina, where Elon University is located, the Latino population proportion mimics the one nationally: about 16 percent of the county’s population which is, precisely, the same percentage for the U.S. population.
Interacting with some of them recently, I was able to notice that they tend to be heavy users of mobile technologies: They use their smartphones to text, to call, and, very important, to be connected to their families and friends, both in the United States and abroad, through social media such as Facebook and through apps such as WhatsApp.
At the same time, many of them pick, religiously, the “ethnic” publications that they find in restaurants, supermarkets and community centers around the town, because this hyper-local publications really reflect the issues they are concerned about: the immigration reform, the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA), the unemployment rates, etc.
These are issues that many mainstream media do not cover, or they are covered marginally, with these media industries not understanding the relevance of the issues and the rising power of this audience.
All this is happening while the Miley Cyrus desperation on the MTV VMA awards generates more buzz and coverage that the anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. speech “I have a dream,” or the possible participation of the United States in the Syrian conflict.
These are, definitely, interesting times to learn and discuss about communications in a global age and about the contributions of Latinos to the United States (the other course I am teaching this semester at Elon University). I am excited.