Media Observations – Gatekeepers

One of my teachers has an interesting term he uses. In our Mass Media and Society class, he frequently mentions the “gatekeepers” of the mass media. I found this concept fascinating, especially because of what it has come to mean.

The idea of having a media “gatekeeper” implies that someone is in charge of what comes through the pipeline to us. This could be a head editor at a newspaper. It could be the agency manager for an ad agency. It could be the network director at a major television network.

Whoever it is, in the age of broadcast media, it was evident that someone was pulling the strings behind the media that the general public saw. The thing is, that situation of absolute control is changing, meaning that more and more content gets through to us.

It’s more an issue of numbers than anything. Now more than ever before there are increasing numbers of sources for people to release their media content through. If one gatekeeper says no, someone else might say yes. This changes the playing field dramatically for the gatekeepers, who tend to make a profit off the things they let through their company’s gates. If one won’t run a specific variety of content, their competitors might run it instead, and thereby get viewership that the first company won’t.

This means that, more and more, the content we’re allowed to see is entirely up to us. We are becoming our own personal gatekeepers for the media content we take in. Most of the time, it’s all out there within our reach from one source or another, so all we have to do is choose what we really want.

Do you feel intimidated or liberated by being your own personal media gatekeeper?


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