Redefining Gatekeeping Theory For A Digital Generation


  • Lianne Chin-Fook McMaster University
  • Heather Simmonds McMaster University



gatekeeping theory, digital media, new media, web 2.0, social networking, influence, online networks/communities, agenda-setting theory,


Technological advancements and digital media have problematized traditional gatekeeping theory. This paper focuses on how the immediacy, authenticity, and transparency of digital media challenges the original theory of gatekeeping in terms of what defines a gatekeeper, the role of gatekeepers and the speed and flow of information as it pertains to understand those who control and influence the flow of journalistic content and information online. We suggest that news institutions are unsuccessful in attempting to re-appropriate control online by exercising traditional gatekeeping practices. Our new model transforms Shoemaker and Vos’ unidirectional flow model (2009) into a multidirectional flow by which all actors have the potential to influence one another and the flow of information. Digital media functions as a hub or nexus of information exchange and influence, connecting everyday individuals to organizations, by primarily channeling through the mediation of networked individuals and professional communicators; thus, gatekeeping is redefined online.