Handbook of Digital Politics
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Handbook of Digital Politics

Edited by Stephen Coleman and Deen Freelon

It would be difficult to imagine how a development as world-changing as the emergence of the Internet could have taken place without having some impact upon the ways in which politics is expressed, conducted, depicted and reflected upon. The Handbook of Digital Politics explores this impact in a series of chapters written by some of the world's leading Internet researchers. This volume is a must-read for students, researchers and practitioners interested in the changing landscape of political communication.
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Chapter 20: Journalism, gatekeeping and interactivity

Neil Thurman


Gatekeeping is one of the most inclusive research traditions in the field of journalism studies. In its investigations into the processes ‘by which the vast array of potential news messages are winnowed, shaped, and prodded into these few that are actually transmitted by news media’ (Shoemaker et al., 2001: 233) it accommodates political and economic influences, as well as organizational routines and practices; the influence of the audience, outside sources and technology; and journalists’ individual characteristics and collective professional values. However, changes in how technology and the audience – individually and collectively – are taking on journalistic gatekeeping functions; how established gatekeeping routines have changed in response to information from the public and about their news consumption behaviour; and some of the political and economic influences on gatekeeping in the online news environment have not, yet, been fully reflected in the academic literature. In this chapter I will discuss these technological and social influences on journalistic gatekeeping by reflecting on my own research in these areas over the last decade or so. The chapter begins with a review of the literature on gatekeeping as it applies to journalism. I will then use the concepts of ‘adaptive’ and ‘conversational’ interactivity to frame the discussions that follow on how technology and the audience are impacting journalistic gatekeeping.

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