Are celebrities the new gatekeepers?

As suggested by Andrew Currah in his work ‘What’s happening to our news?’ due to a 24/7 news real, emphasis has been shifted from news gathering to news processing. This lack of attention to detail within the content because of the speed at which it needs to be produced has damaged the news agenda and the way we gatekeep stories.

But if we are saying that the news is not as good as it used to be, we need to justify whether or not journalism was flawless in the past.

David Broder from the Washington Post describes the newspaper that arrives on your doorstep as “a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we heard in the past 24 hours.”

So was there ever a golden era for journalism?

The news has always been limited by speed and accuracy, only we never had the time to mull over the mistakes in newspapers before they were disposed of and forgotten about. The difference in the digital age is that news can be read time and time again by consumers as they are preserved in the internet archives.

If accuracy has always been an issue, what are the real changes in journalism?

Boris Johnson

Evidence shows that there has been a growing demand for views and comments of the journalists. It’s a fair requirement of the consumer to want to know facts and what the journalists think of the facts themselves. But now comment sections are taking over space where news would originally be, and there has been a visible increase in ‘celebrity’ columnists. The Daily Telegraph pays Boris Johnson £250,000 for his weekly column – an 82 per cent higher pay packet than his Mayor of London salary.

The news agenda is being shaped by consumer demands and need to fill space with no time to go out and find the real news.

And while consumers want to read what celebrities have to say, celebrities are also controlling what is said about them. PR stunts conveniently timed with album release dates or film premiers consistently make the news. Shifting the power of the journalist as a gatekeeper, to the power of the celebrities who have influence over consumers.

In drastic cost cutting measures, newsrooms often rely on unpaid interns to produce the work of those who they could not afford to pay any more. This lack of staffing and time is having a serious effect on the quality and accuracy of the news being produced. The PCC’s data shows that volumes of complaints have increased by 70 per cent in the past 16 years.

These are just a selection of alternative ways in which the digital revolution has impacted journalism, other than the well debated issues of time, money, quality and accuracy.

How do you think journalism has changed in the digital age?


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