ABIAS, Leonard Paul B. AB Communication TO ERR IS HUMAN...TO GATEKEEP IS DIVINE!

Paper No. 1 June 29, 2009

Ever felt sorry for newly hired writers and first time field observers? I always do. They bother themselves in making their first article good enough to make it to tomorrow’s paper or the 6 o’clock news tonight. They take the risk. They take their chances. Unfortunately, only writers with God-given writing skills make it on their first time. But we cannot blame media and publication companies. Whoever would want to read a newspaper or magazine as thick as the Webster’s dictionary or watch news or entertainment programs whose airtime is as long as...nobodyknows? They do not print or air every single event that happens on Earth everyday. They categorize those which they think is significant and would appeal to the public from those which would much likely be a bore. This process is called gatekeeping. One of the models of communication makes gatekeeping a part of it. George Gerbner’s model of communication explains that the communication process is subjective, selective, variable and unpredictable. Selective, in particular, refers to gatekeeping wherein the communication events are being chosen upon for the most meaningful and significant ones. Another communication model which shows some signs of gatekeeping is Wesley and MacLean’s model. One element in the model (X”) is defined as “message as modified in the media for transmission”. This element represents the channel’s (media) selections both from the messages he gets from the advocate (e.g. a field reporter) who responds selectively to his immediate physical surroundings and from the abstractions in his own sensory field which may or may not be from the advocate. Based from Wesley and MacLean’s model, one can deduce that gatekeeping does not happen on the editor’s desk alone but it starts right from the advocate selecting the events for modification by the channel. To cite a concrete personal experience, I was one of five students who were offered a position in our high school paper as Science corner contributor when I was in sophomore year. My first assignment was to write about Pluto not being a planet anymore. I was able to meet the deadline and I anticipated that it would be published. A month later, I immediately looked for my write-up in the feature portion the moment I received a copy of the paper, and I did not find it. I tried to look for it in other parts of the paper. I was upset for days. When the editor-in-chief gave me another assignment, I intentionally did not do it out of frustration. Personally, gatekeeping really is a significant process of the communication process. It has always and will always be. Imagine communication without information passing through categorization of filtering first. The world would be...unimaginable! Neighbours fighting, boring, lengthy news programs, bulky newspapers and magazines and businesses going down. It’s a no brainer. The tenth world war could have started just yesterday or this morning if not for gatekeeping.

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