Gatekeeping: You’ve Been Framed

This week we revisited our news articles and started looking at them in the context of gatekeeping and framing. One of the biggest complications when writing the news story was condensing large amounts of information without loosing any substance.  Gatekeeping is the process of working with all the components you’ve found during your research and working it into a story, in other words “massaging information to become news.” (Shoemaker et al. 2009, p. 73) Little did we know, this process came naturally when we were all constructing our stories so we already has a small taste of what gatekeeping was and how important it was in producing a good story. Certain pieces of information can be emphasized  or reordered to create  the most cohesive and readable story, however in doing to we can subconsciously choose certain elements to push certain (biased) narratives if we’re not vigilant.

The framing of a story is also important and makes it easier to condense vast amounts of information to the most essential parts and to create an article that’s easy to digest. When writing my article I realised I had large chunks of contextual information that didn’t add much value to the story. Although they were interesting, they weren’t essential and the story got lost in them, however when I decided on a clear frame, it became so much easier to determine what should be included and what should be axed.

During the lecture I learned that different frames can push different agendas, I realised than i’d already been thinking about this especially in the way that the news media treats black individuals in comparison to white individuals in stories relating to crime in light of race relations in America. For example Mike Brown was branded a “thug” (which some say is a new version of N word) and phrases like “he was no angel” were used as character assassination tactics to justify Darren Wilson’s handling of the situation. Phrases like these seem to always pop up when describing black people in news stories, particularly in cases where unarmed black men and women were shot at the hands of the police whereas the narrative of the “troubled loner suffering from depression” more often than not, gets pushed when the perpetrator of a crime is white (Dylann Roof and Elliot Rodgers to name a couple). The same is done with photos, something that was also highlighted in the case of Mike Brown where the news media select photos of black individuals that make them look more aggressive, making them easier to vilify and then using photos of white individuals with their families, or at their graduation ceremonies. People were so passionate about this that they began to publish photos of Mike Brown and other black men and women who were gunned down that were closer to their actual nature.

It was interesting to think that when writing my own story, the way I framed my story and selecting the information that made the final cut was a central focus and made me think about what processes different news organisations went through when writing their own content. They would definitely be very conscious of framing and I wonder if there were certain narratives the organisations collectively agreed to push.

Shoemaker talks about a study by David Manning White that showed how a writer’s own assumptions and set of experiences often have a strong influence on the framing of a story and the struggle to report with a level of objectivity with journalist selectivity proving to provide the biggest sense of bias in news stories.

I’ve always been a creative writer so writing a news story was a challenge for me, I went through the process of what I’ve come to call “removing the fluff” with my metaphorical lint roller. When I started the story I was very clear on what angle I was going to take, it was going to be centered round my neighbours and their complaints, however as I got further in I realised that it was bigger than that and their complaints had resulted in a huge redesign. In my draft, I neglected to emphasize this in the introduction which now seems really obvious but when I was writing the draft it flew straight over my head. I’m already looking at ways to improve my final story as well as some ideas for how to incorporate multimedia elements in a news context.

In our tutorials we had a current affairs quiz which I went into feeling extremely confident because I read the news every day, however I found out that while I may know a lot about international news my knowledge of current affairs in New Zealand is not so great (I only got four questions right which of course were the questions that related to things outside of NZ). In my defense i’m not even a little bit sorry that I had no idea the Rugby Word cup was about to happen but i’m a little surprised (and so was my mum) that I didn’t know that Prince Harry had his birthday recently because I can easily give you a rundown of his dating history and tell you that he’s currently dating Jenna Louise Coleman off Doctor Who.  I’m definitely going to have to make a conscious effort to get into NZ news which I’ve often thought of as B grade news (it’s bad I know). That, and I still have a sense of loyalty to England so I tend to be more interested in news from there anyway. Also, every time I watch NZ news I often get frustrated by the lack of substance and i’m not the only one.



2 thoughts on “Gatekeeping: You’ve Been Framed

  1. Glad we share the same views on news substance! I was so shocked that our feature stories aren’t exactly newsworthy. Kate Middleton may vaguely relate to human interest but whatever happened to consequence, proximity, and conflict and basically all other news values. Really enjoying your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Sorry about sneaking your tweet in there too haha It also annoys me how when they actually do have a story with actual substance they don’t really go into too much detail and it’ll get a 30 second slot and then one on a heat wave in London will get 3 minutes.

      Liked by 2 people

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