Category Archives: Blog #3

Friday the 13th, 2013

In December, people look forward to the holidays, which are supposed to be full of joy and quality family time, but no one at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado expected their holidays to start off with such a dark turn of events. On December 13, the students of Arapahoe High School never expected a gunman, much less a fellow classmate, to come into school and open fire. Karl Pierson, 18, was that gunman and student of Arapahoe High School.

Blogs and other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter allow citizens to contribute their own thoughts and opinions about issues at hand. They sometimes offer first-person information or visuals about the issue before the broadcasting news is able to report about the event. Facebook (link) allowed the students, staff, families, and other people to reach out and contribute their thoughts and feelings to those involved in the shooting. Even more recently, the same Facebook page was used to provide support to students involved in a shooting at Berrendo Middle School in New Mexico. On a cite called Twitchy, news reporters and other more seemingly reliable sources contributed to the thread, updating the public about the shooting.

The traditional news outlets gave people people the basic information that they want to hear. But the reporting of the same event by citizen journalists may have less reliable information. To gatekeepers, the news reports to the audience what they think is relevant and what they think the audience wants to hear. The more tragic the story, the more newsworthy it is. People always want to know who the victims and instigator are, when the event happened, why it happened, how something like this could happen, and what the events were that lead up to the tragedy.

From this event, the gatekeepers have told us who the shooter was: Karl Pierson, who his intended target was: librarian and debate coach Tracy Murphy, the victims: the student body of Arapahoe High School and Claire Davis who later passed away, why he did it: for “revenge” or other reasons against Tracy Murphy. Even though we hope to find that the information given to us by “the gatekeepers” to be true, I found that the details about this event were not always reliable. The Huffington Post said that a “15-year-old female student remains in critical condition.” link, but according to other reports the female student in critical condition was 17-years-old link. Another website even got the target’s name wrong, calling Tracy Murphy, Tracy Martin link.

Citizen journalists can post whatever they deem to be true or false and the audience can accept it either way, but just because that citizen journalist is reporting his or her opinion or story does not make it valid reporting and reliable. But not all of the information that is found on these other seemingly reliable websites is completely reliable either. Both methods of obtaining information and/or reporting information can have it’s flaws and unreliability. If we want reliable information, then the best way to get it is to look for it ourselves, but in our society controlled by media, who knows what is and what isn’t true anymore.

Controversy over a robot?

It’s not every day you look online and see a controversial news article about a robot.  But, according to Propublica, there is a new robot called da Vinci designed to perform operations, and was backed by students of the University of Illinois who were paid to promote it.  Paul Levy, a former hospital executive mentioned seeing an add promoting the robot, but it had 12 students from the University featured on it.


Levy then went on to say that there was a note at the bottom of the add article stating that some of the members from the photo were compensated for the work they did for the company promoting da Vinci.  When Levy checked the University’s code of conduct, he found that this against it, and would create a bad name for the University.

Not only is this a controversial subject, but it is something that needs to be reached by more of the public.  With rapid growth in technological advancements happening all over our country, it’s difficult to keep everything in line and prevent unethical technology from being created.  Maybe this robot isn’t such a bad thing to a lot of people who see it as something that benefits society, but there are also a lot of people who see this as something that will lead us in the wrong direction.  Creating a world run by robots!

How does this relate to gatekeeping and gatewatching?  Levy owns a blog site called “Not Running a Hospital”, and created a post about this subject called “Time to Fire Somebody” in which he picks apart all the wrong made by this advertisement.  In the post, Levy states several University-wide restrictions on this act, and mentions that not all of the people in the photo were surgeons or even medical students.  Since Levy had previously worked at a hospital, he has some major credibility in this field.  The blog post is an example of gatekeeping.  A news event that could have gone ignored was shared by an experienced hospital executive and opened to the public to discuss.  The discussing of the events would be gate watching, because people who are interested in Levy’s blogs or career would most likely be into this controversy and discuss (or argue) about what could fix this dilemma.  To me, this is a good example of citizen journalism.  Someone who cares about the ethical status of medical research, and students following by their University’s code of conduct went out of the way to read the fine print and raise awareness on the issue.

Citizen Journalism in the Aurora Shooting

The citizen was 18-year-old Morgan Jones and he was the initiator of one of the biggest instances of citizen journalism today.  He was not the only citizen journalist but, he became famous for his Reddit thread on July 20, 2012. The crazy thing to me is that this Jones wasn’t even at the shooting.  He was sitting safely at home on his computer and saw one news update and immediately started his thread.  Jones began posting minute-by-minute updates on the story.  He used tweets from witnesses and victims, reports from traditional media sources and even information from police scanners.  The post even got to the point that reporters and news outlets used this Reddit post for their information because he had already dug it up.

This instance of citizen journalism (and citizen journalism in general) is really important because sometimes, citizens are the first responders and primary witnesses.  They were there, the reporters weren’t, let them tell you about it.  Even though Jones wasn’t there, he combined all the information out there to keep his feed going and get all of the information out to the public.  This citizen journalism was the quickest and most rapidly updated account of the shooting.   This instance shows the power of the internet for citizen journalism.  News programs can only get information out as fast as they can pull together the news team, pass information in between each other, then to the reporters on screen.  But on Reddit, citizens can come together to collectively determine the facts of a news story.  The citizens were editing each other.  This Reddit feed even was the FIRST place where the picture of the shooter, James Holmes, surfaced, which shows the power of the citizens.  When Jones was posting, he created “a cohesive narrative of the tragedy”.  It was found out also that Jones wasn’t just copying and pasting every tiny scrap of news; he was providing updates but also correcting old information that might be wrong and answering questions from other users, all to create the most complete knowledge of the incident.

This event was similar to traditional news reporting. He was up all night getting the information out there.  He became the go-to source for the event (for other citizens and news outlets), as just a kid sitting in his room late one night.  Some people would argue that posts like this lack the editorial processes of traditional journalism, which I would agree with sometimes but, in this case, the information was being edited by many citizens together, in real time, in a collaborative effort.  I would also argue that in a case like this on Reddit, you have access to a network of information that maybe the traditional news outlets don’t because of the HUGE amount of connections that occur that way through this one website.

This is the link to the actual Reddit feed from that night:

I would say that this Reddit thread was an instance of both gatekeeping and gatewatching.  Jones was controlling what was going through and doing his best to get the most recent and factual information out as fast as possible.  This one person was behind the story getting all the information out.  But I would claim there was gatewatching as well because it was a curation of all of the information in one location.  The information was being evaluated and when it needed updating, it was updated because so many people were watching this specific gate.  I think that in this case the gatewatching and gatekeeping flowed really well together and mutually reinforced each other.  There was the obvious challenge of getting the truth out but the processes of gatewatching and gatekeeping worked so well together, that the truth was able to get out eventually, even if it took a couple corrections, or a couple more contributors from the world.

Other sources:

Athlete and Journalist

Every two years the worlds best athletes from all corners of the world gather for the Olympics.  Involving people from all over the globe leads to a high demand for media coverage of this event. With each Olympics comes a new level of media coverage, sponsors, and air time.  Today’s technology gives us many ways to get information about what is going on wherever the Olympics are being held.  This year the media boosted the most coverage ever.

The Winter Olympics consist of 15 different sports with varying numbers of sub sections of each sport.  Even with possibly the most  coverage ever the media is still unable to show every event.  The media also focuses on showing the events they think people want to see.  This makes it difficult for people to keep up with less popular sports when only using traditional media outlets; TV, newspapers, magazines, ect.

Through social media the athletes have a chance to give a unique first hand report of their events.  This changes the perspective we get on how the events took place.  We no longer only here from the athletes in official interviews or press conferences.  Hearing from these athletes in official setting produces professional comments and the athletes could be told what to say by sponsors, coaches, or their government.  These types of coverage could be heavily edited, making the media company providing the coverage a powerful gatekeeper. Todays technology and social media gives athletes an open environment to not only tell about the event but to express themselves.  Technology and social media gives athletes the power to by pass the gatekeepers (gatecrashing)  and give the audience a direct line to the source of information.  This also improves the audiences gatewatching power.  The primary source of the athletes gives the audience something to compare the medias coverage with.

Over the past ten years technology has changed the dynamics of journalism.  It has shifted power from the large media companies to the audience.  This shift in power has allowed for less gatekeeping, gatecrashing, and better gatewatching.


Upworthy Enough?

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.

Gatecrashing, The Olympics, and the rise of Citizen Journalism

Historically, journalists have ruled the world “in front of the gates”, following stories, and telling the rest of us what they deem important. However, with the birth of the Internet and the rise of social media, “citizen journalism” has become a large part of our information gathering process. For example, since the beginning of the modern day Olympic Games, the global stage and the U.S. specifically would have to wait until major networks like NBC would cover them several hours later. Although events would occur several hours before the American public could see them, the anticipation was still a huge part of the experience. Now, with instant reporting from anybody at the games, the anticipation is lost. I can wake up in the morning and expect to watch slopestyle that evening, wondering all day who is going to lay down the smoothest run. However, when I get on Instagram or Facebook, I can see that Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, and Nick Goepper swept the podium for the U.S. without being able to watch them ski.

Olympic Gold Medalist, Joss Christensen posted this Instagram around 8:00 AM  (US Mountain Time) on Thursday morning.


NBC didn’t have any coverage of the event until primetime Thursday evening. I watched the event already knowing that the U.S. won Gold, Silver, and Bronze, so when I saw the three podium worthy runs, it wasn’t as climactic.

However for other global events like the conflict in Syria, citizen journalism holds a more substantial role for the people of the world. We can see real issues occurring across the pond without the bias of a massive media conglomeration or the inherent danger of sending  correspondents into war zones. “In the past, if the media wasn’t there to cover an event, it was like it never happened”(Karam, Syria’s Civil War Plays Out on Social Media). Now, we don’t need the classic, mainstream journalism to cover these dangerous and highly controversial issues.

The Olympics and the conflict in Syria are just two examples of citizen journalism taking over the traditional news medium. We no longer need journalists to tell us what is going on somewhere because everybody is on the Internet. Typical journalism conventions are dying. Everybody that carries a smartphone walks their own beat and can say: “I’m there, you’re not let me tell you about it” because they will be wherever a major newsworthy event is happening. People are now able to bust down the gates of journalism and post whatever is happening at any time as long as they have an internet connection. This gatecrashing trend is becoming more and more apparent as major events occur like the Olympics or the spreading conflict in Syria. It is really interesting to see how the Internet and social media are shaping modern day journalism, whether good or bad. It really makes me wonder what the future will hold for traditional journalism.


Citizen Journalism and Mergers

Comcast acquired Time Warner Cable this past Thursday for $45 billion.  They are predicted, if all goes as planned and the merger is approved by the federal government, to serve 1 out of every 3 homes in the United States (CNN: Gross).  Many news stations have been covering the new acquisition, and users of social media sites definitely have put in their opinions without hesitation.

CNN’s article titled “What a Comcast-Time Warner deal could mean for you,” written yesterday, summarizes the buyout as well as analyzing the new horizons of possibility for Comcast and Time Warner customers.  One way they look at this subject is using sub-headers such as “Would my bill go up?” and “What about service quality?” that go into what the upcoming changes are to the customers of these service providers.  The author of this article definitely is a gatekeeper, in choosing what topics he finds are important to share with the public, like how the new acquisition will change their service options for the worse, or the better (if you were a Time Warner user).

Social media also allowed many people to vocalize their opinions of this merger.  As social media goes, I will focus on people’s reaction via Twitter.  On a website page called “People Generally Just Really Hate Their Cable Companies,” many consumers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable show their obvious hatred of the merger.  One tweet reads “Comcast / Time Warner merger is like a merger between swine flu and the bubonic plague” (Mashable: Gerhard Stiene) while another tweet reads “Prediction: the Comcast/Time Warner merger talks will be slow, freeze a bunch of times, and eventually have to be restarted.” (Mashable: Matt Goldich).  These tweets, along with the rest of the 23 that are provided on the website are proof that “gatecrashing” is at play here.  Gatecrashing is a phenomenon in which users find other channels, rather than the regular gatekeeping channels, to publicize certain news or opinions.  This website,, provides a place that is not a traditional news outlet for consumers to share what they really think of events that occur.

As goes for this article paired with this user-generated content-style website, I think that they are mutually reinforcing each other.  In the article, it tries to be as objective as possible, but leans towards the acquisition being somewhat problematic for consumers of the individual service providers.  The website contains 23 tweets that show those consumers’ hatred of the new merger.  The article states that, “[w]henever there are mergers of two large customer-service providers…we tend to see quite a few problems…We’d be surprised if a new hybrid Comcast-Time Warner doesn’t produce a lower level of customer satisfaction for a year or two” (CNN: David VanAmberg).  This view is widely held by all of the people who posted tweets concerning the new merger- they feel it will be a terrible endeavor as customers to either one of these service providers.  This viewpoint is definitely apparent in the tweets as well as a slight bias in the news article.

A challenge that is presented by the twitter feeds of multiple people is accuracy.  The tweets presented by unhappy customers of Time Warner and Comcast only show their opinions about the merger or their predictions, not the solid facts of the case like you see in the article on CNN. Though the viewpoints of the article and tweets somewhat coincide, the article on CNN is definitely more informative to consumers.

Sources Cited:



The Impact of Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism has started to take over all forms of media. By using outlets such as Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and Four Square, ordinary people now have the power to spread information quickly and nearly effortlessly. While this impacts our culture in many ways, this new trend has completely changed the way we get our information. For example, important news stories and major events are often publicized or even revealed on Twitter. A perfect example is when an ordinary person, Jim Hanrahan, first broke the news about the airplane that landed in the Hudson River in 2008. Before any professional news source reported on the incredible landing, Hanrahan tweeted, “I just watched a plane crash in the hudson.” From there, obviously the story exploded over the news but this is just one of many examples where the news was first revealed on Twitter by a “citizen journalist”

This new way to report on and receive information is changing the face of news media as we know it. I think this type of journalism would definitely be categorized as “gatewatching” as well as “gatecrashing.” It is “gatewatching” because these citizen journalist are publishing or posting everything and anything, regardless of its “newsworthiness.” It is also “gatecrashing” because it engages in the sharing of content, which is extremely conducive to Twitter. “Gatekeepers,” on the other hand, typically are more active about what they publish and post. This category is reserved for the professional journalists and therefore does not really relate to this kind of media. These forces are mutually reinforcing because they can all work off each other. For example, with the airplane-landing story, it was broken on Twitter, where ordinary people as well as news sources then “shared” it constantly and finally, professional news sources wrote the proficient, full-length stories.

A major challenge dealing with gatewatching, gatecrashing, and gatekeeping is assuring accuracy. Like previously mentioned, citizen journalists can post and share whatever information they want, true or false. This information can spread like wild fire with little hope for quelling false rumors. This is a difficult challenge to overcome considering the vast resources available to the average person. Mostly, I think people have to be aware of where they are getting their information and always double and triple check facts.


Boston Bombing and the social media storm

On April 15th 2014, Boston was hit with a horrifying bombing during the Boston Marathon. The news of this bombing traveled extremely quickly with simple bystanders live tweeting and updating the happenings. This social media explosion (sorry for the inappropriate pun) greatly affected the reporting and investigation of the bombing.

With social medias step up with expediency against the reporters and broadcast media, the information gets out a lot quicker. However, at times it can be loose or just down right false. Especially with the Boston Bombings, tweets started flooding in seconds after the explosion. Its what happened after the initial shock that made the idea of citizen journalism look bad.

According to Chris Measures post “The Rise of Citizen Journalism”, Reddits coverage of the Boston marathon led to citizen journalists wrongly accusing people for the bombings. This actually led to the families of the accused being harassed and defiantly didn’t help with the actual police investigation of the bombings. The problem with it is that Reddit is an unpoliced platform for people to post on. Which means no gatekeeping, just people deciding to put what they qualify as news on this website.


Social media is fast and people want the fast and easy news. As you can tell by the image above, the news one gets from twitter and various other social medias is the fastest but it also has less volume, meaning that there is not as much information. You can’t really fit all the information of a bombing in a 140 characters and also more information is revealed over time. With that broadcast media is obviously more reliable and can put out the most important information because they take the time to collect it and make the news story.

The challenge with this struggle between citizen journalism and the broadcast media is that people sometimes believed some of the false information being tweeted by the public. In the case of the Boston bombing of course twitter and other social medias let people know the basics of the event and it was the quickest way to know. However, since broadcast media took the time to collect the information and decide what they want to publish through gatekeeping, they had a trustworthier story even when it’s jumbled up with the false and confusing social media coverage.


The Cleveland Kidnappings

Between the years of 2002 and 2004 a man named Ariel Castro kidnapped three women. A 21 year old Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry who was taken a day before her 17th birthday, and a 14 year old named Georgina DeJesus. They were all kidnapped after accepting a ride from him. He then drove them to his home, lured them in, and held them captive in his home home. The women wrote diaries expressing their anger, and speaking of forced sexual conduct, anticipating abuse, dreams of escape, and how they felt like they were treating like animals. They were only fed one meal a day and were allowed two showers a week at most. Castro had also impregnated Knight about 5 timed but had induced miscarriages each time through starvation and beatings. In December of 2006 though, Amanda Berry gave birth to a daughter while inside the house. DNA testing has been done and the father is in fact Ariel Castro. In May of 2013 about a decade after their kidnappings, Berry and her 6 year old daughter were found in Castro’s home. After escaping with the help of some neighbors Berry called the police. Police officers then entered Castro’s house and the Knight and DeJesus were then saved. Castro was then charged with 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, 2 counts of attempted murder, and other charges totaling 937 counts. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, plus 1,000 years with no opportunity for parole. After serving only 34 days in prison, Castro was found dead due to suicide.

The entire case, especially Castro’s suicide sparked a l lot of reaction on twitter and other social media outlets. With each step of the case gatekeeping, and citizen journalism were involved. People often kept up with the status of the case, and would tweet their opinions. For example one tweet written by @TheReeealDirk said “Ariel Castro found hung in his prison cell… best news I’ve heard in a while.” You can see some other tweets found here. These citizens are involved in their own gatekeeping because they decide the amount on information they want to put out there involving this case, they can be opinionated, and they can post it in whatever means they feel appropriate.

The victims are also taking their own part in citizen journalism. They have set up their own website which you can find here, with information about themselves, how their life is now, answer frequently asked questions, and a link to follower their twitter account. Their twitter account can be followed at @clevelandkidnap and have 9,568 followers. On the website you can check up on old news from the case, over 200 videos you can view, interviews, and much more. There is also information about Michelle Knight’s book “Finding Me” which is set to be released this May. Citizens can also share these stories, pictures, or videos through their twitter or FaceBook.