Public Service Media| Youth Online and News: A Phenomenological View on “Diversity”
As the amount of information consumed daily by young Internet users increases, researchers and policymakers have begun challenging conventional understandings of diversity exposure. Drawing upon findings from two mixed-method studies conducted in 2011 and 2013 by the Youth and Media project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this article argues that a phenomenological approach to diversity that takes into account a broad range of developments in the digitally networked environment, including behavioral trends related to seeking, sharing, and creating information, might be a helpful starting point for discussing both the problems and solutions related to different facets of the diversity concept. Following the case study on youth interaction with online news, this article analyzes a spectrum of transformations: changing definitions of news, changes in news reading (such as new forms of participation, changing access modalities, and new types of gatekeepers), developments in social media practices, and emerging genres (such as memes). Throughout, this article discusses some of the conceptual challenges that emerge when applying current diversity frameworks to a real-world scenario and highlights complex behavioral patterns that should be taken into account before considering any interventions aimed at increasing diversity.