From traditional gatekeeper to professional verifier: how local newspaper journalists are adapting to change
Lily Canter Sheffield Hallam University
The traditional role of the journalist as gatekeeper is being undermined and challenged in the online world where anyone with an internet connection can publish to a global audience. As a consequence the role of the journalist is being constantly redefined as the “profession” no longer holds exclusive rights to the dissemination of news to the masses. This study seeks to explore how local British journalists perceive their role in the era of Web 2.0 and how willing they are to adapt. Through interviews and observation at two local British newspapers it was possible to gain a greater understanding of the modern role of the local journalist and their professional distinctions from the public. These NCTJ qualified journalists increasingly view themselves as verifiers of news who use their training and expertise to amplify news to the wider public. Despite some initial reluctance they are largely enthusiastic about technological and cultural adaptations to their role although some are still resisting this change. There is also evidence to suggest audiences play a role in secondary gatekeeping by influencing the selection and prominence of stories on newspaper websites. Furthermore the findings seek to inform educators of the continued relevance of the professional accreditation body, the NCTJ, to an industry persistently challenged by citizen journalism.