CMP's NetGuide Focuses on Issues of Internet Content and Access in African-American Communities

February Issue of NetGuide Magazine Features a Report on 'The Quest For a More Diverse Online World'

PRNewswire
MANHASSET, N.Y.
Jan 27, 1997

"The Net, with its predominance of affluent, 40-something white males, hardly represents America's diverse culture," writes Kate Gerwig in her article "The Quest For A More Diverse Online World," featured in the February issue of NetGuide Magazine. "The reasons for this great disparity, say members of the African-American community, stem from two issues: content and access."

In addressing the issue of online content, Gerwig unveils some of the best sites for information relevant to minorities. The list of the founders of these sites reads like a who's who of prominent African-American cyber-trailblazers: Malcolm CasSelle, co-founder of America Online's NetNoir site (keyword: Netnoir; or on the Web at http://www.netnoir.com/); Gregory Newbold, President of Black On Black Communications Inc., which creates and distributes the e-mail newsletter BOBC News to some 50,000 subscribers (also available on the Web at http://www.bobc.com/), and Jake Oliver, Publisher of the Afro-American Newspaper Co. and founder of AFRO-AmericĀ® (http://www.afroam.org/), a site featuring national online editions of his company's newspapers and a wealth of information about African-American culture and history.

Although some informative, entertaining and enriching content does exist, it is not yet widely accessed by or accessible to minorities. A U.S. Census Bureau report conducted in 1994 shows that just 39 percent of African-American students use computers in school versus 56 percent of white students. Statistics on home computer use are even more dismal -- 15 percent of African-American students reported using a computer at home, less than half the 36 percent of white students.

The implications these statistics represent are troubling, and to put the severity of the situation into perspective, Gerwig turns to Larry Irving, head of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. "The kid without (computer) skills is going to be increasingly left behind, because every job in this economy is going to require some computer skills in the next five to ten years," Irving says.

Gerwig notes that help is out there. Organizations such as Plugged In (http://www.pluggedin.org/), a non-profit group in Palo Alto, Calif., are dedicated to providing public Net access and training to low-income families in the area. Others working to get communities wired include Charlotte's Web, in North Carolina, and Making Healthy Music, in Newark, N.J.

In conclusion, Gerwig turns to Irving for confirmation that access and content are inextricably connected. While access is essential -- without it, content becomes irrelevant -- according to Irving, plugging in is only part of the solution. "It's more than wiring," he says. "You have to have content that matters. One of the great things about the Net is that there have never been as many resources for, by and about members of minority groups as the Internet provides. The Internet is increasingly relevant to our lives -- that's why everyone needs access."

Published by CMP Media Inc., NetGuide Magazine is the leading monthly publication for users of the Internet and online services. Building off NetGuide Magazine's reputation for expert information and quality delivery, CMP created the first comprehensive daily guide to the Net, NetGuide Live, which is located at http://www.netguide.com/.

CMP Media Inc., now in its 26th year of uninterrupted growth, is the only provider of publishing, marketing and information services to reach the entire spectrum of the high-technology market -- the builders, sellers and users of technology. With sales of $418 million in 1996, CMP has marked a quarter century of success with an average annual growth of 20 percent. CMP Media is also the creator of First-TV (http://www.first-tv.com/), the Internet's first 24-hour TV/video network.

-0- 1/27/97

SOURCE: CMP Media Inc.

CONTACT: Leslie Dunbar of CMP Media, 516-562-7040, or ldunbar@cmp.com


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