Gatekeepeing in the Age of Social Media

Getting the gatekeeper’s nod has never been an easy job. Traditionally, the gatekeeper has tried to control what journalists write and speak about and, therefore, what people read and listen to in the different media. The gatekeeper –generally an editor or publisher– guided the audience by using what Lippmann called “maps of the world”, which tend to simplify reality in order to make it understandable.

Nowadays, however, everyone becomes his/her own gatekeeper, since social media make self-regulation possible. That is to say, everybody who has Internet access can set up a blog, write in Twitter, or share any kind of information via applications such as Youtube and Flickr.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that the “maps of the world” are no longer needed. Actually, in our age they are more necessary than ever before, as we have to deal every day with immeasurable amounts of information which are not easy to assimilate. Thus, journalists have the duty to distinguish between important and irrelevant information.

In any case, the surfer who writes in social media is in control of his/her own content, and he/she is who decides the significance of the information that is being published. When using social media, one has to keep the target audience in mind. And, to a large extent, this target audience determines not only the content but also the form of what is published.

To sum up, in the Age of Social Media the direction of gatekeeping has changed, although its essence has not. Social media have turned us into our own gatekeeper but, still, we have to follow certain patterns in order to attract the audience. Despite the fact that the content may not be imposed by an editor or a publisher, we have to self-regulate it, and this makes the Age of Social Media a greatly challenging era.