By: Emily Judge

Back again for week two and gatekeeping is constantly hidden within the everyday news. Just to recap, according to The Gatekeeping Function: Distributions of Information in Media and the Real World gatekeeping is the process by which the billions of messages that are available in the world get cut down and transformed into the hundreds of messages that reach a given person on a given day.

“There has been many discussions in both academic and popular outlets, of whether there are liberal or conservative biases in news media. It has been found that the popular view is that media has tended to provide more of a liberal view of both nation and world events. If a liberal bias does exist, it may be true that a negativity bias in the NYT will be greater during Republican administrations. Bias is typically investigated in terms of a bias towards coverage of one party or another, for instance, or as a tendency to focus on bad news about one party and good news about another” (Soroka, 522).

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“There is an alternative hypothesis to be drawn from the literature on the economy and government popularity, namely, what Carlsen (2000) has referred to as the the ‘‘salient goal hypothesis,’’ whereby each party is held accountable on its most salient (economic) dimension: unemployment for Democrats and inflation for Republicans (as in Powell and Whitten 1993).21 Media, like voters, may be more critical of Democrats on unemployment and more critical of Republicans on inflation.” (Soroka, 523).

On a completely unrelated note, an article called,  Gatekeepers to the Famous and the Powerful by Patricia Brown, was published int he NY times in 1991. Although 1991 seems like forever ago, this article interviews Rose Gross-Marino and discusses “her credo, “trying to be nice when people are obnoxious,” the mission of an unsung but quintessentially New York occupation: personal assistant to someone whom everyone is trying to get to. As unbudgeable as the lions in front of the New York Public Library, and at times just as stony, Ms. Marino and her cohorts, who seem to have everything but a union, are diplomats, gatekeepers and divine masters of the brushoff” (NY Times).

“Brown then goes on to talk about how “on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, Norma Foederer, who is the assistant to Donald J. Trump and is considered by many to be the epitome of the apogee of personal assistanthood, is fielding requests for her boss, something she does daily” (NY Times).

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Each day Ms. Foederer, who is a former foreign service political officer and has broad executive responsibilities (some suspect she runs the company), clips newspaper articles in which Donald Trump’s name appears. Page Six of The New York Post doesn’t circulate. It goes directly to Mr. Trump. Behind her desk is a video player and a stack of tapes: the opening of Wollman Rink, a Mike Tyson fight and an episode of “Designing Women” in which Marla Maples was the guest star. When a visitor spied that tape, Ms. Foederer whisked it away.”The word loyalty is important,” her boss said of his assistant of 10 years. “She’s a cool cucumber. Norma is a case study in what this position should be” (NY Times).

So as you can see, gatekeepers can also come in all different shapes and sizes, including assistants! Although this article is from 1991, I think it really shows how much work assistants do (especially political leader’s assistants) when it comes to gatekeeping their lives. I can only imagine the amount of work Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s assistants have to do in order to help gatekeep their lives.  When it comes to a personal assistant loyalty is vital. It is so important to be able to count on this person to protect you and your reputation, but especially for those people running for president. Within elections there are various rumors and hateful things spread around the news, but you need to know that someone will have your back to catch those rumors and crush them before they grow larger.

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Within politics, Twitter is huge. Although you can only write as much as 140 characters will let you, it is an easy way to state an idea or an opinion and get it out there quickly. According to Gatekeeping Twitter: message diffusion in political hashtags “Twitter is a free microblogging service that allows users to publish short messages, known as tweets, in a variety of ways. Users can post their tweets on the Twitter website or send SMS text-messages directly from their cell phones. Because Twitter enables realtime propagation of information to any number of users, the platform is an ideal environment for the dissemination of breaking news directly from the news source and/or from the geographical point of interest.”

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Twitter has a strong relationship with its audience, depending on the amount of followers a certain person has, this will decide how many retweets or favorites this specific tweet will receive. “This is again the concept of gatekeeping based on the principal that network topology determines message diffusion” (Bastos, 263). Bastos, Raimundo, and Travitski tested this hypothesis with a dataset of Twitter political hashtags. “Political issues tend to be more persistent than other topics, thus assuring that once the messages goes through the gate (once it goes viral), it remains in time and space” (Bastos, 263).

According to Romero et al. (2011), political hashtags are particularly persistent, with repeated exposures continuing to have large relative effects on adoption. The persistence has a significantly larger value than the average – in other words, successive exposures to a political hashtag have an unusually large effect relative to the peak. Once political hashtags become Trending Topics they tend to spread through the network in a way that corresponds with the complex contagion principle, which maintains that repeated exposures to an idea are of vital importance when the idea is controversial or contentious.

Especially in politics, it is hard to know who to trust or to trust anyone at all! But with the trust of our personal assistants and or gatekeepers of the world, we can power through the drama and rumors the way Donald Trump would; take it head on and use it to your advantage. That’s all for now, check back next Wednesday for a new article on gatekeeping, media and politics!

Sources:

The Gatekeeping Function: Distributions of Information in Media and the Real World

Gatekeepers to the Famous and the Powerful 

Gatekeeping Twitter: message diffusion in political hashtags

Photo Credits:

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Trump and Assistants

Political Twitter

Every Tweet Counts