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= concept and book, "gatewatching, in contrast to journalistic gatekeeping -, and over the course of hours and days following the publicisation of the initial news item added significant value to these stories through extensive discussion and evaluation". (Axel Bruns)


Axel Bruns:

'My earlier work (my book Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, and various related publications) has focussed mainly on what we've now come to call 'citizen journalism' - and (perhaps somewhat unusually, given that so much of the philosophy of produsage ultimately traces back its lineage to open source) it's in this context that I first started to think about the need for a new concept of produsage as an alternative to 'production'.

In JD Lasica's famous description, citizen journalism is made up of a large collection of individual, "random acts of journalism", and certainly in its early stages there were few or no citizen journalists who could claim to be producers of complete, finished journalistic news stories. Massive projects such as the comprehensive tech news site Slashdot emerged simply out of communities of interest sharing bits of news they came across on the Web - a process I've described as gatewatching, in contrast to journalistic gatekeeping -, and over the course of hours and days following the publicisation of the initial news item added significant value to these stories through extensive discussion and evaluation (and often, debunking)." (

More Information

  • GATEKEEPING, GATEWATCHING, REAL-TIME FEEDBACK: new challenges for Journalism. Axel Bruns. Brazilian Journalism Research, Capa v. 7, n. 2 (2011)


Abstract: "How bloggers and other independent online commentators criticise, correct, and otherwise challenge conventional journalism has been known for years, but has yet to be fully accepted by journalists; hostilities between the media establishment and the new generation of citizen journalists continue to flare up from time to time. The old gatekeeping monopoly of the mass media has been challenged by the new practice of gatewatching: by individual bloggers and by communities of commentators which may not report the news first-hand, but curate and evaluate the news and other information provided by official sources, and thus provide an important service. And this now takes place ever more rapidly, almost in real time: using the latest social networks, which disseminate, share, comment, question, and debunk news reports within minutes, and using additional platforms that enable fast and effective ad hoc collaboration between users. When hundreds of volunteers can prove within a few days that a German minister has been guilty of serious plagiarism, when the world first learns of earthquakes and tsunamis via Twitter – how does journalism manage to keep up?" (


* Book: Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production. Axel Bruns. New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 2005

Review by J. Richards Stevens:

"Bruns' doctoral dissertation at the University of Queensland examined resource center communities, including sites like and Expanding his dissertation to present a more systematic approach, Gatewatching extends these analyses to Weblogs, the semantic Web, and Peer-to-Peer activities.

Bruns grounds his analysis by revisiting one of the classic books of media scholarship: Herbert Gans' 1979 Deciding What's News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek, and Time. Gans argued that the press of the late 1970s had succumbed to systematic cultural and organizational pressure that kept journalists from gathering and disseminating certain types of news stories. The failure to resist the values and agenda of the status quo led Gans to call for news that was "multiperspectival," which he defined as "presenting and representing as many perspectives as possible" (313).

Throughout Gatewatching, Bruns clings to the goal of multiperspectival coverage and argues that online collaborative communities are better positioned to produce and promote a diversity of perspectives than traditional mass media organizations.

To support this view, Bruns builds upon classic Gatekeeping theory introduced by Kurt Lewin (1947) and applied to communication by several social scientists (White, 1950; Gieber, 1964; Bass, 1969; Dimmick, 1974; for a thorough treatment of classic Gatekeeping theory, see Schudson, 1997, and Shoemaker, 1996) that models the constriction of information flow at the input (news-gathering) stage, the output (news selection) stage, and the response (the selection among consumer responses to publish or air) stage. Adding new stages to this model, Bruns frames his analysis as "Gatewatching," the process by which online individuals and communities promote the journalism they find to be quality, while contributing their own feedback and original analysis to the news discourse. Gatewatchers do serve some of the same gatekeeping functions as working journalists, but Bruns describes the role of contributors to collaborative news environments as part librarian, part publisher, and part publicist (17).

The resulting information flow looks different in different types of communities, so Bruns alternates his chapters with description and analysis of various representative forms of online communities and activities, such as Slashdot, Indymedia, Wikipedia, MediaChannel, Plastic, Kuro5hin, and Weblogs. He systematically categorizes each community into a gatewatching taxonomy, organized around the degree of editorial control needed by administrators and participants to publish content.

The glue that binds all of these online spaces together is the relative lack of meaningful distinction between audience and producer. Bruns goes to great pains to distinguish these "participatory journalism" spaces from previous industry reform movements like public journalism. What defines a gatewatching space, Bruns argues, is that "the lines between journalists and nonjournalists, as well as between the times at which what individuals do should or should not be considered journalism, are continuing to blur” (289), and that the participants in gatewatching spaces are often engaging in news production processes to increase their social capital (281)." (