In Medieval times or before, the ones who stood sentry outside the gates were the first casualties. They also served as a warning to us of impeeding danger, a valuable sacrifice for our safety. If we fast forward to present day. The job title still exists but the function has changed. Gate keepers are now organised collections of people , societies and sometimes in a more virtual form programs that police the WORLD WIDE WEB. Sourcing and filtering infomation that can have consequential impacts on countries ,communities and even individuals. Kurt Lewin was the first to associate Gate keeping with media in (1947). He describes as “A wife or mother as the person who decides which foods end up on the family’s dinner table.” (Lewin, 1947). .” 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. White (1961) The person who made the connection.
Gate keepers also exist in other media communities . As early as 1909 the People’s Institute in New York City created “The New York Board of Motion Picture Censorship”. This board quickly acquired a great deal of influence beyond New York City, and most of the major motion picture producers eventually agreed to submit all of their films to the board and to not release any films unless approved by it.(Movie cencureship in the United States a breif history) They used decency and moralistic governance in determining what we saw and later also sanctioned the ratings in relation to age relavance. I can loosely detect a trend that those in control from Aristocrats and now to present day corporations, will always set the model for us to follow. This digital age is no exception.
Media has now morphed from professionally coordinated to personal and profesionally influenced . In other words when news previously ran a cycle of field work editing and press. It can now stream strait from the field or live at the site it is taking place , captured from as common a device as a cellular phone. Every and anyone with access to the WWW can be a broadcastor . With conduits like Youtube ,Facebook and twitter to name a few. One method of Gatekeeping here, is to flagg inappropriate material. Money and public opinion can also determine what we see. One very famous example of such strong arming took place when OJ Simpson tried to circulate a book itemizing how he would have gone about his killing of his wife Nicole , had he really done so, with the aid of Fox News as a preamble to its launch. A financial windfall in the minds of Rupert Murdoch and the board at Fox, only the be shortlived and canned because of overwhelming disagreement by the viewing public.
So as emboldened as it may appear to us , and our encouraged first amendment. We can never get carried away , one certainty is that there will always be someone or something holding the reins . That my friends is the Gate Keeper. Or as we learned in “The Matrix” Agent Smith and the other Sentients.