End of Media as gatekeepers?

There are those of you who remember a time when the news media mix consisted of three national network news broadcasts, preceeded by local news, a local newspaper and several weekly news magazines, such as Time and Newsweek.

As I point out in lectures I present on Media and Political Communication, we've seen tremendous changes in what is news media in the last twenty years. CNN proved its viability in the early 80s, joined by several other news networks. Talk radio rose in the late 80s, then the Internet in the mid 90s, and the rise of bloggers in the early years of the 21 century. Where the average person of a generation ago have four or five news sources, they now have a dozen or more convenient to them, with many more out there.

Unlike the "good old days" where the news was vetted and screened in plenty of time for the daily paper or evening news, we now live in a 24-hour world, with news websites, all-day/all-night cable news channels, and front-line combat journalists with satellite video phones. News outlets that hold a story to make sure its newsworthy or edit it for better clarity, or get time to present both sides of a breaking story, will often get left behind in a "first strike" new reality of news media.

Where media once had the benefit of time and market position to act as "gatekeepers", screening and developing raw news for what they felt was the way the story should appear to audiences, now they have become a jumble of "conduits", in which everyone is seeking to get the news quicker than the other guy.

The media "gatekeepers" are dead, victims of the reality of an instant, always-on, global village.

This is a point of view which is shared by Michael Delli Carpini and Bruce Williams in their 2004 paper entitled "Monica and Bill All the Time and Everywhere", which looked at how the media evolution made it increasingly difficult for the Clinton administration to shut stories up, as well as for the media and politicians to put their spins on what did make it out for public consumption. As media competed to get stories out with growing speed and less message-shaping, it gave audiences more information and less opinion with which to form their opinions.

In their groundbreaking work in the field of Agenda Setting theory, conducted in 1972, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw found that media was far more effective at telling people what to think about than what to think about that subject. Delli Carpini and William's findings that people make up their own minds when given enough unfiltered information is certainly consistent with McCombs and Shaw's findings.

0 Response to "End of Media as gatekeepers?"

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

To post a comment without having a Blogger account, select "Name/URL", put your name in, but leave the URL line blank. Email me if you'd like to comment, but need help making it work.