Upworthy is an up and coming web community full of citizen journalists posting new and “upworthy” stories. Their slogan is “Things that matter. Pass ‘em on.” So, it would appear that their goal is to have citizen become the gatekeepers in deciding what matters in our world today. They are the deciding factor in what should be passed on and what is really noteworthy and important.
Upworthy is the definition of a modern news source in so many ways. It implements citizens as gatekeepers and also gatecrashing is occurring. Non-traditional methods are being used to produce their content. They avoid mainstream media such as CNN and New York Times, but yet they are wildly popular and other non-main stream media such as Twitter and Facebook re-post Upworthy content constantly.
The website is set up so that the feature story is one selected by the authors, an example of traditional gatekeeping, the hired people selecting stories to show. Below is a section that says, “Recently Shared”. Here are stories that have been shared the most aka posted on facebook, retweeted, sent via email. This section is a great example of gatecrashing or gatewatching. The audience shares stories that they think are relevant, therefore making the more popular ones, stories that citizen journalists think are relevant and important.
These two ways, traditional and modern gatekeeping, work together in this situation to enhance the website. Having a traditional gatekeeping aspect creates a path for the citizen journalists to follow. They are most likely to click on the feature article and if they find it relevant they will repost. This is a good example of gatewatching too. The citizen journalists “watch” what the traditional gatekeepers post and if they agree they will repost and it will eventually end up in the “recently shared” category.
The challenge with Upworthy is the content itself. It ignores all traditional news values and is trying to produce a new type of news: positive news. For now it seems to be working. I see Upworthy posts constantly filling my Facebook. Whether or not it will continue to be popular is unknown, but it’s a start to new modern news and it’s a move in the right way. Having solely citizen run news and media loses credibility, but traditional gatekeeping alone is too old fashion. Upworthy is attempting to mix both and I think it’s a move in the right direction.