Definition Edit

Gatekeeping as defined by Pamela J. Shoemaker and Tim P. Vos is "the process by which countless occurrences and ideas are reduced to the few messages we are offered in our news media." Essentially, this is how the media decides which stories to bring to us.


Kurt Lewin Edit

In "Frontiers in Group Dynamics: II. Channels of Group Life; Social Planning and Action Research," published posthumously in the journal of Human Relations in 1947, psychology expert Kurt Lewin put forth what would become gatekeeping in discussing how food was brought into the home. The numerous steps in the process, such as selecting what food to by, how to store it, and how to prepare it, were considered gates by Lewin, as laid out in his model.

Mr. Gates Edit

David Manning White, a research assistant to Lewin, was the first to bring the concept of gatekeeping to media. In "The 'gate keeper': A case study in the selection of news," published in Journalism Quarterly in 1950, White shows an example of how an editor (Mr. Gates) selects stories, often through personal preference. Many disagreed with this assessment, including Walter Gieber, John T. McNelly, and Steve Chibnall.

Westley and MacLean Edit

Westley and MacLean gatekeeping model

Bruce Westley and Malcolm MacLean created a model that applied the levels of gatekeeping that Lewin had originally laid out. Published in Journalism Quarterly in 1957 under the title "A conceptual model for communication research," Westley and MacLean laid out how events (X), got to the receiver (B). Through the media (C), either discussing with a source (A), who had seen or a story or gaining a story directly, the message could either be removed or pushed on toward B. B could then give feedback on stories, in turn pushing A toward stories that more specifically matched B.

Levels of Gatekeeping Edit

There are five types of gatekeeping to consider when conducting research. Individual, basically boiling down to what one does or does not like. Routine, the constraints of the media in terms of deadlines and news space limitations. Media organization, how much money or time can be devoted to covering which story. Communication organization, where media is effected by things such as sources, markets, or the government. And finally culture, where the message must be relevant to the culture it is being given to.

Outside Resources Edit Video about the changing role of the media as gatekeepers in the social media age.

References Edit
Salwen, Michael B. & Stacks, Don W. An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. Edit
Shoemaker, Pamela J. (1991) Communication Concepts 3: Gatekeeping. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Edit