Media & Politics

Media Effects and Politics

Dina E., Kennedy C., Emily J., Rob D., Laura M. Continue reading “Media Effects and Politics”

Who Will Be Our Newest Gatekeeper?

By: Emily Judge

Many people have been researching gatekeeping for many years. It started back with White in 1950. According to the Gatekeeping Theory in Communication Research Trends, “he applied the term gatekeeping and the theory to the news industry, since its structure of reporters and editors clearly illustrated the filtering process through which information passed before it reached an audience. The theory proved robust and helpful for decades.”

Many different people started applying this theory to their own research. For example Gans in 1979 applied the term and theory to the national news, both broadcast and print, right after the Watergate scandal. Through the research of participant observation of four major news media, this ended up offering a detailed description on how the news media actually worked. Because of this future researchers took a more sociological approach to the communication questions.

When dealing with politics you really need to think clearly about the way you communicate to your voters. But also what to gatekeep for them. According to Gatekeeping Theory from Social Fields to Social Networks, “the World Wide Web has presented new challenges to these traditional models of gatekeeping, where raw content passes uni-directionally through a gate manned by journalists before reaching the reading public. The ability of users to create and disseminate their own content has uprooted and inverted the roles of gatekeeper and gated.” In politics these new challenges might consist of the many people that now gatekeep the presidential poles and the stories that are let out during the race for president. Another challenge might be is the amount of truth that these “gatekeeped” stories hold. Just to show you the process of gatekeeping and how complicated it could get, here is an example:


According to the University of Twente’s article Gatekeeping, “Kurt Lewin was apparently the first one to use the term “gatekeeping,” which he used to describe a wife or mother as the person who decides which foods end up on the family’s dinner table. (Lewin, 1947). The gatekeeper is the person who decides what shall pass through each gate section, of which, in any process, there are several. Although he applied it originally to the food chain, he then added that the gating process can include a news item winding through communication channels in a group. This is the point from which most gatekeeper studies in communication are launched.”

Especially during the political race for presidency, “the gatekeeper’s choices are a complex web of influences, preferences, motives and common values. Gatekeeping is inevitable and in some circumstances it can be useful. Gatekeeping can also be dangerous, since it can lead to an abuse of power by deciding what information to discard and what to let pass” (UTwente). Gatekeeping can especially be dangerous when rumors get out about a specific candidate. Different candidates have different approaches when this happens. For example, Trump decides to take them head on and use them to his advantage. For someone like Trump this seems to be working well, but not all candidates are as lucky.


Trump uses social media and the younger group of voters to help his case. He talks in understandable ways and uses terms like good and they did well. Not words like, extravagant and they did exceptional. Trump’s gatekeepers help him with his speeches so that they are framed around what the younger group of voters will understand and want. His slogan is “let’s make America great again!” This is an easy slogan for people to remember and for people to understand; its basic and to the point.

I found an article that was very interesting and explores Conceptualizing Gatekeeping in the Digital Era. “The objective of this article is to emphasize the complexity of the news production process, the convergence and divergence of blogging from traditional journalism, the relationship of citizens emerging as producers of journalism, the role of journalism in the new media landscape, and the growing influence of blogs on users. The overall results provide strong evidence for the dynamics and potential of online citizen journalism, the creativity of citizen journalists, the contemporary networked news environment, the emergence of hybrid forms of media work and content production, and the relevance of fact-seeking in journalism.”

d1ab0fe8-2df8-4f31-9535-5053801bbd90_10001Lewis et al. claim that in the online environment there is a greater expectation for end-user engagement with and control over content. Politicians and the candidates running for president use this to their advantage through social media and live broadcasts. This will increase their chances of end-user engagement and will therefore lead to more votes.

As talked about in all three blog posts, gatekeeping is a huge part of politics. Gatekeepers are extremely important when it comes to the presidential debate because not only do they gatekeep the bad things from the voters, they gatekeep the good things in order to turn them in their favor. Not only does the race for presidency NEED gatekeepers, but politics in general need gatekeepers. When the president is finally chosen, they will then become one of the gatekeepers of America. Until working on this project, I never really knew how much gatekeepers really did, but their job is huge! Without gatekeepers it would be very hard to decipher what was right or wrong and true or false. Hopefully these few blog posts have helped you to better understand the job of a gatekeeper as well!


Gatekeeping Theory

Gatekeeping Theory from Social Fields to Social Networks


Conceptualizing Gatekeeping in the Digital Era.

Photo Sources:

Gatekeeping Graph

Young Trump Voters

Live Broadcast

Donald vs Hillary: Foreign Relations

trump v clinton.png

In a time when reporters have strict deadlines to meet–sometimes down to the minute–news is broadcast faster, farther, and more intensely to a bigger audience than ever before, all on an international playing field. This leads to a heightened awareness of the general public, and subsequently, the nation: all news now feels more personal–especially threats to national security. Naturally, this then sparks the debate of American involvement or restraint when dealing with these international issues–and everyone has different theories as to whats best for the country, especially candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


Donalds’s Vision

It isn’t hard to tell that Trump’s strategy of foreign policy is one based in toughness: his powerful rhetoric about Mexico alone is enough to give potential voters a good idea of how he views other natmexico trump.pngions in relation to the United States: Trump on Mexicans. Strangely enough, Trump is quoted as saying: “We will not be ripped off anymore. We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody.” While ambitions to not be taken advantage of are good, Trump has been far from friendly in his language–before even winning the Republican nomination. For additional reading, the title says it all: In Donald Trump’s Worldview, America Comes First, and Everybody Else Pays.


Hillary’s Vision

On the ohillary smirk.jpgther end of the political spectrum, Hillary Clinton appeals to the population that wants to see the United States intervene when other nations are in n
eed. She advocates the protection of Isreal and urges that the United States should never remain neutral when other countries are in harms way. Hillary
recognizes the importance of respecting all other countries, likely coming from her background as Secretary
of State, and the need to maintain strong relationships with other nations.


The advent of the Internet and social media has changed the way voters follow an election. With an immense population of American’s online, the reporting of news comes directly to our pockets as soon as it hits. Surrounding the multiple recent terrorist attacks around the world, the topic of foreign policy has been of high importance, and as you can see, the two leading candidates of each party have very different approaches when it comes to dealing with America and its relations with other countries in the global village.


Hillary Clinton’s Website

Donald Trump’s Website

Trump on Mexicans

In Donald Trump’s Worldview, America Comes First, and Everybody Else Pays

Cover photo credit–Forbes


Hillary Clinton image

John Vivian–The Media of Mass Communication

Presidential Election voting results in South Carolina

Dina Estrada

bigstock-USA-presidential-election-73498186 (1).jpg

The world is at its tiptoes with the presidential election this year. We are constantly surrounded by media and hear opinions, Continue reading “Presidential Election voting results in South Carolina”

Changing Times

Laura Miller

March 30, 2016

With the rise in social media over the last decade and even the last four years since the last presidential election, has come new ways for candidates to break into our lives and for us to influence each other. Social media has become an added feature of our lives and could be used as a way to grab at our attention to break through our desensitized lives that are filled with massive amounts of media. How often do we just scroll through our news feeds filled with cat videos, beach pictures, and the occasional life update? What grabs attention is the controversy and personal aspect of politics that can appear on social media.

According to Pew Research Center, 66% of social media users have used social media for political activities. In media environments filled with controversy and violence, it is to be expected that conflicts arise on social media sites among “friends” from the posting or sharing of political thoughts and ideas. Social media is a tool used to reconnect, hang out, and get to know people better thus enabling people to be friends with their inner circle of friends to their acquaintances and coworkers. With the large diverse groups of friends that one can have it is not surprising that according to Pew Research Center, 73% of a users friends on average either “only sometimes” or “never agree”.


Pew Research Center: Who uses social networking sites and Twitter

In addition to the rise in social media use among everyday people, political candidates are using this new social world. Trump has used Twitter to bash on his political competition and create controversy through the medium. He has over four million followers on Twitter to catch his remarks and comments. This new addition of wide social media usage marks the third time that technology has changed the game of politics with the prior times being the result of radio and television.

Social media allows political candidates to be more transparent and for the public to become better informed about events and become engaged with candidates on a more personal level. Obama recently encouraged Federal agencies to use social media to inform and engage the public.

With the rise of social media, the political environment is changing.  Political figures are using these new forms to reach new audiences and break through the clutter of other media people are surrounded by.


How Social Media is Ruining Politics-Nicholas Carr

Pew Research Center-Politics Fact Sheet

Social Media Policy-US Department of the Interior

Photo Credits:

Political Cartoon

Opinion Leaders: Does Their Opinion Really Matter?

By: Kennedy Covington


The influence of opinion leaders

Opinion Leaders Set the Agenda

If the agenda setting theory is the idea that the media tells the public what to think about, then how does that content reach the public… through opinion leaders. This is part of the Two Step flow model which proposes that the media is heard by opinion leaders who pass on information to their followers.


The Institute of Education Sciences reported on the different medium forms that they received its information. After gathering extensive data on opinion leaders it reported:

  • medium: in radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and Interpersonal communication “political opinion leaders receive more information about candidates from _____(medium form) than do nonleaders”
  • age: “political opinion leadership is greater for middle aged persons than for young or old persons”
  • sex: “the incidence of political opinion leadership is greater for males than for females”

After researchers collected this data they concluded the significance of this information for the media regarding campaigns stating:

  1. campaigns should inform, influence, and carefully choose opinion leaders to in turn relay a specific message to the public
  2. newspapers, televisions, and interpersonal communication are more efficient than radio, and magazines in educating voters about politics
  3. campaigns should target males between 31-35 years old as this group encompasses the majority of opinion leaders

Social Media, Opinion Leaders, & The Agenda


Social Media: The New Opinion Leader?

As society becomes more entwined with technology the role of social media continues to grow. Many argue that social media is taking the role of opinion leaders today by and conclude:

  • social media like opinion leaders sway their audience to believe information presented and consequently behave certain ways
  • advertisers target social media similarly to opinion leaders, to pass along information to their target groups

Another article published in the International Communication Gazette reported a similar yet broader idea deducing that mass media in general may has taken the role of opinion leaders due to our countries advanced technology. Contrastingly, an article published in The Oxford Journals argues face-to-face communication of opinion leaders is very meaningful to influence voting patterns and opinions of the public. It continues by inferring that without this face-to-face communication information held by leaders would never make it to the nonleaders.  Finally, yet another school of thought argues opinion leaders transmit information to different groups among different social boundaries.  

As the to who opinion leaders actually are and the role they play is unclear, it is changing along side media. Opinion leaders determine how political messages and politicians are viewed which impacts who the public ultimately votes for.



Agenda-Setting and Mass Communication Theory

How is Social Media Playing the Role of an Opinion Leader Today

Media Consumption and Population Characteristics of Political Opinion Leaders

The Media of Mass Communication- John Vivian

The Social Capital of Opinion Leaders

Opinion Leaders in the Electorate

The Scare Factor on Social Media



 The race to the white house has always been a Hot topic around the Globe. The USA as a Super Power Continue reading “The Scare Factor on Social Media”

A Globalized Bullet of Politics

bullet theory.jpg


British lawmakers debate banning Donald Trump from UK for ‘hate speech’

After British Lawmakers debated Donald Trump and his potential banishment from their country in mid-January, the political influence that the American presidential race has on the rest of the world was solidified. More importantly, I believe that this is due to a bullet model, or hypodermic model, of mass communication.

While it is often debated as an outdated effects theory, the bullet theory pertains directly to national presidential elections in the United States: voters and members of the public are ready to believe anything that reaffirms their already held beliefs, therefore, having a direct effect on what they believe to be true.

This can be seen clearly in this study by Business Insider:

TV biases

As the diagram shows, TV programs like Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show tend to be more conservative than programs and media such as MSNBC, BuzzFeed, and the New York Times.

Additionally, viewers and their biases towards their political affiliation leads to a nearly cult-like following of the candidate. This can be highlighted most apparently through Donald Trump: his followers take his messages so seriously that they are willing to assault other citizens in his name. Earlier this month, a Black Lives Matter protester was punched in the face by a loyal Trump supporter in North Carolina. If this doesn’t display the bullet model in practice, I’m not sure what does: Man Sucker-Punched at Trump Rally

Time and time again, the candidates from the current presidential race and their strong messages directly effect voters–right down to their actions. This can be seen worldwide via the Internet, and has even sparked the interest of countries like Great Britain and its Parliament. Walter Litppmann and his approach to mass media theory is still applicable today to the presidential race.


Business Insider

British Parliament

Sucker Punch at Trump Rally

The Media of Mass Communication-John Vivian



Surrounding Violence

Laura Miller

March 23, 2016

Violence and horror too often exist around the world. This week the world was struck again with devastation and horror at the Brussels terrorist attacks from terrorist group ISIS.

Most often the theory of desensitization with regard to media refers to violence. The assumption is that people are exposed to large amounts of violence and thus become almost immune to it. This assumption falls into the social learning theory aspect of media suggesting that people learn what they are exposed to and in this case for the detriment of society.

The spread of information through social media especially about violence around the world spreads like wildfire as can be seen through this time-lapse of tweets that include the word “Brussels.” Violence catches our attention quickly as can be see by the quick spread of word of the attacks.

“Brussels” twitter spread from Washington Post

In light of these attacks, politicians in the US are using the attacks as a public relations tool to try to gain additional supporters for the upcoming elections by discussing their policies and ideas on terrorism and Muslim groups. This happened earlier in the presidential campaign following the Paris attacks as immigration and national policy positions began to be established by the front-runners. Once again, politicians like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz are using these new attacks to better position themselves in the eyes of the American people and world.

CNN Presidential candidates weigh in on Brussels attacks

Hillary Clinton discusses doing more than just building a wall like Donald Trump has been suggesting throughout his entire campaign. As discussed in my last post about breaking through the clutter on Super Tuesday, Clinton uses this opportunity to also create a small amount of controversy by bashing potential opponents Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and their stereotype reactions towards Muslims following the attacks.

Clinton bashes Trump, Cruz for rhetoric on Muslims, torture

Have we become so numb to violence that it requires us to use it for the advantage of our position as we have seen these politicians do?


CNN-Terror attacks reverberate in presidential race-Stephen Collinson

Washington Post- Clinton bashes Trump, Cruz for rhetoric on Muslims, torture

Washington Post- Watch how news of the attacks in Brussels spread across Twitter- Andrea Peterson

Research in Media Effects- Roger Wimmer and Joseph Dominick

Photo credits:

Political cartoon

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