Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Critical Analysis - Gatekeeping

The term ‘gatekeeping’ in the world of journalism is used to describe the flow of information to its audience.

The theory of ‘gatekeeping’ was first instituted by German social psychologist Kurt Lewin in 1947.

In the news world, the gatekeeper decides what news you will read and when you will read it. The gatekeeper’s ideology influences what news he or she is willing to let go to print, and this sometimes plays a role in whose opinions are printed.

An example of this would be an ongoing political news story and which side the newspaper leans towards i.e. labour or conservative.

A in a small town with only one source of news is ill-served because only one gatekeeper controls the towns news stories. An example of this would be the Falmouth Packet.

This can often lead to one person’s point of view being distributed; leading residents to only get one interpretation of the week’s events.

The more sources for news, and the more viewpoints expressed in the community, the more residents will be able to make decisions about the area’s future. The more avenues that exist for members of the community to be connected with their neighbours and the news, the more constructive and informative public debate becomes, often leading to a better quality of newspaper for that particular local area.

In my opinion residents in local areas are better served with multiple gatekeepers, and so are national broadsheets and tabloids. Studies show that in areas with multiple newspapers, its readership tends to increase.

Also the presence of competition is also good for newspapers, and even better for advertisers. If the newspaper is not good, people will not read it, leading to a decreasing readership. Readers always have alternatives in the world of newspapers, whether it is broadsheets or tabloids. This forces newsrooms to strive for excellence, balance and thought-provoking coverage.

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