Gatekeepers as Safekeepers—Mapping Audiences’ Attitudes towards News Media’s Editorial Oversight Functions during the COVID-19 Crisis
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
- Scientific articles 
Original versionJournalism and Media. 2022, 3 (1), 182-197. 10.3390/journalmedia3010014
This study investigates people’s attitudes towards news media’s role as gatekeepers during the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, this concerns news media’s quality control and the selection of the most important news about the pandemic, as well as the provision of useful information and knowledge about the virus and its implications. Challenging research that has questioned the very idea of journalistic gatekeeping in hybrid media systems, we set out to explore people’s attitudes towards news media’s gatekeeper functions during a crisis, when the need for reliable and relevant information is extraordinarily high and the information environment is flooded with disinformation. In this situation, news media gatekeepers could serve as safekeepers that protect the population. Based on a national survey in Norway (N = 1024), a country characterized by high levels of trust in social institutions, including the national press, the study finds that people were generally supportive of news media’s gatekeeper functions amid the pandemic. However, there were noteworthy demographic differences. Older people, women, and those who were more highly educated showed more positive attitudes towards news media’s gatekeeping. Moreover, we found lower support for news media’s gatekeeping in the group who trusted alternative, right-wing news media.