And it is the working class that has lost the most during this transformation of the news media. Not only does coverage of their world suffer like that of other constituencies in an era of reduced investigative reporting, but they are also not as apt to contribute to the new citizen journalism cloud.

Any solution to this gap must address the fundamental socioeconomic gaps between digital haves and have-nots. The ability of a city like Modesto to engage more of its citizens online may well rest on its ability to confront this thorny topic. Otherwise, the more elite classes that dominate the cloud will continue to drown out the voices of the marginalized.

This piece is part of CJR’s Nov/Dec 2011 roundtable discussion of the future of news in Modesto, California, and places like it. For more on the topic, click here.

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Jen Schradie is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and is affiliated with the Berkeley Center for New Media.