The freedom attributed to the world of online journalism supports the notion that the internet fosters equality. When it comes to news, we can be our own gatekeepers and use social media to carve out our own news agenda.
The issue is at the heart of a post on Nieman Journalism Lab by Ken Doctor, looking at the evolving image of the news editor within social media, from the experienced newsdesk figure to our community of online friends.
In this hybrid era of straddling print and digital publishing, the role of the gatekeeper has markedly morphed. It’s shifted from “us” to “them”, but “them” includes a lowercase version of “us”, too. Gatekeeping is now a collective pursuit; we’ve become our own and each other’s editors.
With social media, the serendipity that came with turning pages and suddenly discovering a gem of a story that an editor put there happens in new ways. We’re re-creating such moments ourselves, each of us―individually and collectively―as we tout stories and posts to each other. A friend e-mails us a story; we might read it, time permitting. We get the same story from three people, and chances are good that we’ll carve out time to take a look.
Doctor says that in the future news organisations will need to “harness this power” by combining a professional and traditional news judgement with the value and reach of social media networks. Additionally – never underestimate the importance of aggregation in appealing to social media audiences.
Go ahead and call it gatekeeping, but think of it with a different slant when it comes to flexing those well-honed news judgment muscles. These days editors have a much bigger bank of news and features on which to draw. It’s not just what staff reporters and wire copy offers; it’s the entire web of content.