Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

13.4G: Gatekeeping

  • Page ID
    8368
  • Gatekeeping is the process through which information in publications, broadcasting, and the Internet is filtered for dissemination.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Discuss the concept and implications of the gatekeeping process and censorship

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Originally focused on the mass media with its few-to-masses dynamic, theories of gatekeeping also now include the workings of face-to-face communication and the many-to-many dynamic now easily available via the Internet.
    • Gatekeeping was formally identified in Kurt Lewin’s publication, Forces Behind Food Habitsand Methods of Change (1943).
    • Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • information: Things that are or can be known about a given topic; communicable knowledge of something.
    • Gatekeeping: Gatekeeping is practiced by gatekeepers, people who control access to something, for example, via a city gate. In the late twentieth century, the term came into metaphorical use, referring to individuals who decide whether a given message will be distributed by a mass medium.
    • censorship: The use of state or group power to control freedom of expression, such as passing laws to prevent media from being published or propagated.

    Gatekeeping is the process through which information is filtered for dissemination, be it publication, broadcasting, the Internet, or some other type of communication. As an academic theory, it is found in several fields, including communication studies, journalism, political science, and sociology. Originally focused on the mass media with its few-to-masses dynamic, theories of gatekeeping also now include the workings of face-to-face communication and the many-to-many dynamic now easily available via the Internet.

     

    The Gatekeeping Process

     

    According to Pamela Shoemaker and Tim Vos, gatekeeping is the “process of culling and crafting countless bits of information into the limited number of messages that reach people everyday. ” Gatekeeping as a news process was identified in the literature as early as 1922, though not yet given a formal theoretical name. Gatekeeping was formally identified in Kurt Lewin’s publication, Forces Behind Food Habits and Methods of Change (1943).

    image

     

    Kurt Lewin: Lewin was an influential behavioral and organizational psychologist who proposed the Phases of Change Model.

    Lewin identified several parts of the gatekeeping process in his 1943 article. These parts include:

    1. Information moves step by step through channels. The number of channels varies and the amount of time in each channel can vary.

    2. Information must pass a “gate” to move from one channel to the next.

    3. Forces govern channels. There may be opposing psychological forces causing conflict that creates resistance to movement through the channel.

    4. There may be several channels that lead to the same end result.

    5. Different actors may control the channels and act as gatekeepers at different times.

     

    Censorship

     

    Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body. It can be done by governments and private organizations or by individuals who engage in self-censorship. It occurs in a variety of different contexts including speech, books, music, films and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet. Censorship occurs for a variety of reasons including national security; to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech; to protect children; to promote or restrict political or religious views; to prevent slander and libel; and to protect intellectual property.