Media & Politics

Who Can You Trust?

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).

crop_90Donald Trump 1989 Savvy Cover crop1448396761.jpg

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.


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.”


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!


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:


Trump and Assistants

Political Twitter

Every Tweet Counts

Television in Politics

By: Kennedy Covington

Tina Fey mocks Sara Palin mocks endorsing Donald Trump

Television’s Role in Politics 

Television has always played a major role in politics. In the 1950s, television was the role of the most popular medium that reported on political news. Even today, television plays an important role in politics whether it is advertising for candidates, reporting on political news, or covering the latest political debates.


Researchers have found the following effects of television on politics:

  • Candidates/issues emphasized on television corresponded to the voters agenda
  • Increasing number of people with negative attitudes/feelings about the political system
  • A change in political campaigning, making political advertisements the main source of communication between voters and candidates
  • When covering political debates, television reports on who is leading the polls and candidates’ tactics rather than addressing candidates views on certain issues
  • Political bias that are televised are based off of candidates’ character and personal information more so than their actual political views


Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live, a popular comedic late-night television show, is known for their short comedic skits, including many political sketches. The Huffington Post reports that some researchers believe, “’Saturday Night Live’” political skits may actually have an influence on voters.”

For example in the 2008 election Saturday Night Live did not miss a single opportunity to use Tina Fey as a doppelgänger to imitate, the former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who was running for vice president. Many believe the “I can see Russia from my house” joke many believe was said by Sarah Palin but in fact originated in an SNL skit starring Tina Fey. Other researchers have coined a new theory the “Fey Effect” which asserts, “the program led the media to skewer and heavily criticize Sarah Palin after airing a critical sketch, while the media’s coverage of her prior to the episode was mainly favorable.” The Huffington Post concludes that it may not be Saturday Night Live’s influence as much as it is exposure of the candidates on such a popular television show, which ultimately sets the agenda of what is discussed.

tina:saraTina Fey mocks Sara Palin in Katie Couric interview

Jessica Leano, a Journalism major at Elon University thinks Saturday Night Live sets the agenda using humor to bring attention to particular issues. Leano points out the “SNL Effect” claiming the show does in fact determine the public’s feelings and ideas about politics. She continues saying the “SNL Effect” will only continue to grow as these political skits become available online.


Ultimately Saturday Night Live is able to impact the political world by:

  • Convincing their audience that information presented on politics is factual
  • Determining what issues are important by spotlighting them
  • Giving some candidates/politicians more recognition by having them on the show portraying them as a main character in a skit on the show


Can’t get enough Saturday Night Live: 11 of the Best ‘Saturday Night Live’ Political Sketches



Political Processes and Television

The Agenda-Setting Power of Saturday Night Live

‘Saturday Night Live’ Political Skits May Sway The Presidential Election

Gatekeeping and the Media

By: Emily Judge

Many of you may ask what is gatekeeping? And who are Gatekeepers? Here are a few facts that might help you better understand the process of gatekeeping and gatekeepers.

  • Gatekeepers are “media people who make judgements on what most merits inclusion in what is sent to networks, stations, and web site operators” (Vivian, 48).
  • “Gatekeepers are the editors who decide what make it through their gates and in what form” (Vivian, 48).
  • “Gatekeeping is an unavoidable function in mass communication because there is neither time nor space for all the messages that might be passed through the process” (Vivian, 48).

Not everything in the news can be processed and published, there is just too much news out there, this is what gatekeepers are for. Their job is to exercise news judgement, deciding what most deserves to be told and how. For lack of better words, they decide what to let out and what to not let out of the gate.

Gatekeeping in politics can be harder than any other subject when trying to decide what to let out and what to keep in the gates. Gatekeeping can be a creative force and trimming a news story can add potency. “Most gatekeepers are invisible to the news audience, working behind the scenes and making crucial decisions in near anonymity on how the world will be portrayed in the evening newscast, the latest blog posting and frequent web site updates” (Vivian, 217).

For example, in the article Gatekeepers: keeping genocide out of the public eye Kelly Parr discusses the coverage of Darfur over the span of 3 major TV networks. According to “Darfur: coverage of a genocide by three major US TV networks on their evening news” an article by Chinedu Eke, a study conducted by the American Progress Action Fund (APAF) found these results:

  • In 2004 ABC, CBS and NBC devoted roughly 24,900 mins to news
  • The same year, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired only 26 mins total on the genocide
    • ABC: 18 mins to Darfur
    • CBS: 3 mins to Darfur
    • NBC: 5 mins to Darfur

Kelly Parr then goes on to talk about the coverage of Martha Stewarts legal problems. It turns out that this issue received 130 mins of news coverage by these 3 networks. She goes on to explain that more people knew about Martha Stewart then they did the genocide.

When it comes to news coverage and what is chosen to be let out of the gates, the gatekeepers must be smart. Right now, we are lucky enough to be in the middle of an election so the news is swamped with political issues. Every channel you turn to, there is something about the debate and our future president. Overall political issues are very interesting but gatekeepers must choose wisely when deciding what to publish. Political issues can easily be hearsay and are not always 100% the truth when they were reported. Within my next two articles I will show examples of these few things stated above, thats all for now! Come back next week for some more information on Media and Politics!


Gatekeepers: keeping genocide out of the public eye

Darfur: coverage of a genocide by three major US TV networks on their evening news


Gatekeeping Image

The Media of Mass Communication by John Vivian 

What do we stand for?

Dina Estrada


What do you fight for? How often do you stop and look back at the struggle and you find yourself amazed at the power of DETERMINATION?
How often do you intentionally fall into the hands of bully and pretend like nothing is happening?   Continue reading “What do we stand for?”

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”

Social Media & Agenda Setting Theory

By: Kennedy Covington

Social Media in Politics


As technology is woven more and more into society, the ability to communicate has become more accessible and convenient via social media.  Given Internet access, nearly anyone can communicate their ideas and opinions to a mass audience within seconds. Politicians have found a way to utilize social media to communicate and interact with voters. They are able to focus their audience’s attention on topics of their choice by choosing what topics to address and those to ignore. In mass communication, the ability to use media to focus attention without explicitly telling the audience what to think is called agenda setting.


The Department of Media and Communications at the University of Oslo in Norway came to 3 main conclusions on the impact of social media on politics:

  1. Politicians mainly use social media as a marketing tactic rather than interacting with potential voters
  2. Social media content is directly related to ongoing debates in the media while debates in the media cover issues addressed on social media
  3. Social media’s impact on politics is geographically linked due to demographic differences


Twitter’s Role in Politics 


Researchers studied the role Twitter played in the 2011 Norwegian Election. They were able to deduce Twitter is more news media as opposed to social media since approximately 85% of Twitter content is related to news topics. Furthermore, researchers were able to confirm political debates cause striking peaks in Twitter activity especially when trending hashtags and retweets allow for further civic engagement.

One of the most important findings showed “Twitter users scrutinize the agenda set by mainstream media and the politicians, and the discussion about the debate is equally present as discussions about the political topics of the debate.” This shows that politicians can easily use social media to guide conversation topics.

One politician who notoriously uses social media to control what people should talk about is Donald Trump. The New York Times reports on “How Donald Trump Mastered Twitter for 2016” stating he was discussed in nearly 6.3 million Twitter conversations. Trump is very aware of his affect on social media when he spoke on deleting tweets, “One of the things I do find is that when you delete it, it becomes a bigger story than having it.” He has the ability to use Twitter to ignite controversial conversations in less than 140 characters.  The ability for politicians and gatekeepers to use social media to control what is discussed is endless and only further solidifies the power of social media in today’s society.


Social Media and Election Campaigns

Twitter use during televised election debates in Norway

How Donald Trump Mastered Twitter for 2016

The Media of Mass Communication– John Vivian


How Donald Trump Won the Internet


Prior to his announcement that he was running for the presidency in June 2015, Donald Trump was already a business icon recognized by millions of Americans. However, since this announcement, his popularity Continue reading “How Donald Trump Won the Internet”




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