Network Effect Changing Gatekeeping

When I first started studying media and journalism, my slightly aggressive and red faced American lecturer was always harping on about the fundamental importance of the role of “gatekeeping” in determining what made the news. In the traditional sense, gatekeeping referred to the privileged position journalists found themselves in where they were able to pick and choose what information was important enough to be shared with the public. While the newsworthiness of particular stories tended to differ between publications, there was an inevitable consensus as to the important qualities a news story had to have in order to pass through the metaphorical gate and into the public sphere. Such a consensus relied on journalistic ethics being foundational to the journalist’s ethos.

Now, whether or not this method resulted in impartial and partisan news reporting is up for debate – but the purpose of this blog is to rather discuss the notion that the traditional gatekeeping framework no longer exists due to the rise of social media.

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As seen in this article, the traditional understanding of gatekeeping in news media is changing due the dynamic social space of social media – and that gatekeepers are now being replaced by what’s known as ‘social mediators’. Rather than news media being a one way street – being passed from the organisation through a gatekeeper and onto the public – social media has enabled more of a conversation between news outlets and the public, requiring engagement and resulting in a modern day hybrid of both mass communication and private communication.

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Post 250 Words Comments: I think the most interesting side of the network effect changing how gatekeeping works (or doesn’t work) isn’t necessarily within the realm of news media – but rather in media more generally and how artists (particularly musicians) are able to share their content on social media without a “gatekeeping” record label from moderating, editing, and generally interfering with the content the artists wish to produce. It’s going to be interesting to see if record companies are able to adapt their business models in order the survive the changing dynamic.

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