ABSTRACT: The research appraised the Impact of Gatekeepers in News Credibility of Broadcast Media with a focus on Radio Lagos 107.5 FM. The study was anchored on Source Credibility Theory. A survey research method was adopted while a questionnaire was employed as a data collection instrument. The data collected were analysed using frequency and percentage. From the findings, it is clear that the role of gatekeepers cannot be overemphasized as it determines the quality of the media output or message. If the gatekeepers perform well, the integrity and reputation of the media will be effective. It is therefore recommended that media outfits should be employed qualified people that will be saddled with the role of opening and closing of information gate. Seminars and workshops should be continuous activities i.e. training and retraining of staff are essential. The Media library should be updated and upgraded all the time because media practitioners are expected to know everything about something and something about everything. Media owners should allow the media managers and staff to operate freely so that the integrity of such organisations will be higher.
1.1 Background to the Study
Before information can be disseminated to the public, it undergoes strict examination by certain people. These people are known as gate keepers. They limit, expand and recognize or interpret the information the audience receives.
There are lots of scholarly definition of what gatekeeping and who gatekeepers are. The term “gatekeeper” was first used by the Austrian Psychologist, Kurt Lewin. He defines gate-keeper as the individual or groups of persons whose role is to monitor the traveling of news in the communication channel.
Expanding Lewin’s definition, Bittner (1989) defines gate-keeper as any person or formally organized group directly involved in relaying and transferring information from one individual to another through a Mass-medium.
Akindele and Lamidi (2001) say “ gatekeeper is anybody who has the propensity to start Mass communication industry”, Lewin’s definition of gate-keeper is centered on the people who govern the movement of news within the communication channel. Bittner (1989) in his definition asserts that gate-keeper is any person or formally organized group who has the job of transferring message from one person to another. Analyzing this definition further, we will see that gate-keeper is not graphic communication, censorship etc.
In his word, Bittner asserts that a gate-keeper can be a film producer who cuts scene form a prime time show because it is perceived as being too sexually explicit, a director who determine what segment of film to use in a documentary, a newspaper executives who determines the topic for editorial, or any other individual in the processing or control of messages disseminated through “Mass-media”.
Lamidi and Akindele’s definition emphasized the influence which gatekeepers can have on the final product in the Mass communication industry. Akindele and Lamidi (2001) explained that gatekeepers determine what the public read and what they listen or watch as broadcast news. Gatekeeper, thus mean any person or organized group of person who control the flow of information in the mass media channel, this; include reporters, proof-readers, editors, newscaster and host of others.
Gatekeeping as a communication concept came to the bibliography of mass communication through lots of communication scholars like Park Robert in 1922 in his book ‘The Immigrant Press’, Park explains the process, “out of all of the events that happen and are recorded every day by correspondents, reporters, and the news agencies, the editor chooses certain items for publication which he regards as more important or more interesting than others. The remainder he condemns to oblivion and the wastebasket. There is an enormous amount of news ‘killed’ every day.
Similarly, Austrian Psychologist, Kurt Lewin in 1943 and 1947, he popularized the concept of gatekeeping and brought it into mass media. David White equally contributed to the concept of gatekeeping when in 1950 conducted study on how news flow, he did an empirical research on how news flow from gathering stage to publishing stage. Another notable scholars that spiced the concept of gatekeeping were Westley, Bruce & MacLean, Malcolm who in 1957 found out how information flow and introduced the ABC model to explain gatekeeping which is very popular today. According to the duo, multiple events is identify as (X), some are discovered by the sender, identify as (A), then travels to the mass media (C -gatekeeper), then to the receiver (B).
Boeed in 1974 emphasized on organizational policy as the most important elements that determines what gets to the public. Dominick in 1994 introduced news values into the concept of gatekeeping.
Pamela Shoemaker, Martin Eichholz, Eunyi Kim, and Brenda Wrigley in 1994 studied the level of gatekeeping adding that elites are most important in gatekeeping process, they added that story is influenced by it importance, Novetty, interest, news values, oddity. Also, Singer in 2000 and 2004 conducted another research on the extent at which gatekeeping is effective in new media environment and he found out that the power of gatekeepers seems to diminish in a modern information society.
It should be noted that news credibility is often determine by how well is gatekept, that is why, till date people still believe in the traditional mass media like TVC, AIT, Channels, NTA, Arise etc because they command many array of gatekeepers who expands, limit and further explain their news programmes when the need arises.
It is against this background that the study appraised the impact of gatekeepers in news credibility of a broadcast media with a focus on Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The major problems facing the Nigerian press arise from ignorance and negligence on the part of the gatekeepers. It is even universally believed that anybody who possesses the talent irrespective of his education can practice journalism, we can see people from different fields such as English Language, History, Economic, Accountancy e.t.c. to name just a few.
Although, eloquent at speech and skillful at grammar without journalism, he or she may not practice according to the ethics of the profession. Many Nigerian press especially citizen journalists are half baked because they undergo meager education.
Another worthy problem facing the Nigerian press men is their negligence to their duties. Most of the news aired or published nowadays is not well edited, some news which can bring hatred and tribal crisis in the country are still being published. It is against this background that the study appraised the impact of gatekeepers in news credibility of a broadcast media with a focus on Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To determine the extent at which gatekeepers impacted on news credibility of Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.
- To ascertain how has gatekeepers impacted on news credibility of Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.?
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent has gatekeepers impacted on news credibility of Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.?
- How has gatekeepers impacted on news credibility of Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study which appraised the impact of gatekeepers in news credibility of a broadcast media was narrowed in scope to Radio Lagos 107.5 FM in Lagos state because it will be difficult if not impossible to visit the entire media houses in Lagos State. Inadequate fund, time and other logistics are some of the other rationale for limiting the scope of this study to Radio Lagos 107.5 FM.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will go a long way in helping researcher, student of journalism, students, lecturers and people studying mass communication and the large public to follow the way or make use of this research topic to know the way they will follow to their respective research.
This study has shown what it takes to become a gate keeper, informing the public and editors that the gate keepers are the fourth estate of the realm if they perform their duties, roles and right from coping, to the dissemination of the information to the public and editors.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Appraisal: This means to evaluate the impact of gatekeepers in ensuring in news credibility.
Gatekeepers: These are people that protect wrong information from getting to the public.
News credibility: In this study, it means audience’s confidence in news messages.
Broadcast media: This refers electronic transmission of programmes such news. Radio and television fall in to this category