Dean talks about race, information

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Dean Ernest J. Wilson III posed the hypothetical question of how W.E.B. Du Bois would respond to the impact of the “information revolution” on communities of color at an open forum Monday.

The event, titled “Exclusion and Inequality in Digital Societies: Theories, Evidence, and Strategy,” discussed the impact of the “information revolution” on the black community through the eyes of historian and American civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois.

The discussion hypothesized that if Du Bois were alive today, he would urge society to research the relationship between information, technology and race. Wilson pointed out how we too are living in a transitional part of history, just as Du Bois lived during the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society between the mid-1800s and 1900s.

“We also live in a moment of transition,” Wilson said. “We are at the front end of a transition from an industrial society to an information society.”

One of the examples Wilson used to illustrate the relationship between the black population and technology was the 2012 presidential election. According to Wilson, President Barack Obama’s victory came in large part because of new technologies.

“[Obama] would not have won without the combination of a more diverse America married to IT,” Wilson said.

To Wilson, the only way to determine trends in racial and gender patterns is through the analysis of hard facts.

“We want a methodology which is structural, dynamic -— which recognizes qualitative changes in society,” Wilson said.

Wilson also highlighted the potentially inherent socio-economic bias prevalent in the media, specifically in regards to online advertising. According to Wilson, blacks owned only .7 percent of all commercial TV stations in 2011, a decrease from previous years.