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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 14 - 2007, No. 2

Gate-keeping in the new media age: A case study of the selection of textmessages in a current affairs programme

, pages: 47 - 62

A key trend in current broadcasting is the combination of traditional TV-formats and digital media. In these multiplatform formats, the Internet and the mobile phone in particular are used as return channels in order to stimulate audience activity. Studies of multi-platform formats have mainly analysed audience participation with cumulative influence on the production, such as Big Brother and Pop Idol. In this article, I investigate a format that combines traditional journalism with elements of audience participation. In the current aff airs format SevenThirty, the audience is invited to respond to issues raised in the programme by sending text-messages via the mobile telephone (SMS). The viewers are not guaranteed to get their messages aired; the moderator selects and rejects messages according to the editorial policy, and thus functions as a classic “gatekeeper”. The study compares the text-messages received by the TV-station with the ones transmitted onscreen. The main research questions are: What are the main confl icts between journalistic norms of objectivity and participatory ideals of access? How are these confl icts handled in the production? What characterises the “gatekeeper” in the new media age? One of the basic findings is that “gatekeepers” not only select and edit, but also fabricate text messages.

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