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Online Year 2 Session 1 – Gatekeeping February 3, 2010

Posted by Ben Smith in Uncategorized.
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In this session we discussed gatekeeping in the media and how it has changed with the rise of the internet. Gatekeepers within the media, take on this name because they control what information they make available to the public. Before the arrival of the internet, the main sources of media the public could access were television, newspapers, magazines and radio. These institutions were very powerful as they had complete control over what they wanted the public to know.

The internet has had a massive role in changing this. It has caused a surge in citizen journalism where anyone anywhere can publish information quickly and it can be seen around the world. The reason for this is that there are very low barriers to entry, and the costs involved are minimal. In contrast, to set up a newspaper for example, the outlay would be far higher. The expense would need to covers aspects such as premises, journalists, photographers, computers, printing equipment and distribution.

Although the internet has allowed people to perhaps bypass the gatekeepers in traditional media, it has not meant the end for gatekeeping itself. Despite the large quantity of information available on the internet, many people still stick to the websites of the BBC and national newspapers to access news. This is because they see them as trusted sources and it has allowed those institutions to expand some of their gatekeeping power to the online format. Many people are not prepared to search extensively for information when they want it. This has led to  tools such as Google News, for example. This a feed from Google which gives its users a list of recommended news sites. Sites that are  unsuitable for the feed become filtered out. In this sense Google could be seen as a gatekeeper on the internet.

The internet has also radically changed the way that journalists work. In the past all the public ever saw was the finished product. The rise of  sites Twitter  means that journalists can publish information instantly and the audience can see the story unfold. It also allows the audience to communicate with journalists and give them a clearer idea of what they want, and how to improve the finished product.

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