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

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

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”

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

Breaking through on a Super Tuesday

Laura Miller

March 15, 2016

Yet another important Tuesday has come and gone as today primaries took place across the country in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. In this political season, it is even more important for news outlets to inform audiences about political topics. Continue reading “Breaking through on a Super Tuesday”




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