Are Journalists the Gatekeepers of Collective Memory

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Arts

Document 1

Each society, albeit from a family, community and even a country have their ways of passing collective information, but if it was critical and it influenced a particular moment in history, then journalists have preserved that data in one of their numerous archives. Therefore, journalists are the gatekeepers of collective memory about facts or interpretations of a particular period in history when an event occurred and it was deemed worthy to be recorded and archived for future reference. In defining collective memory in the 21st century, journalism has been the custodian and retainer of the first and the second drafts of information that is gathered around the world, and they help people to shape up their own ideologies of what they want to do with the data that they are given.

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The narratives that have been developed from the past have critical impacts that they play in our lives especially in our collective memory and journalists help us to come into terms with that information. Journalists use and reconstitute the past and our future from the collective memory, and then they leave the communities to explore the ways in which they will make the information useful to them. The counterintuitive nature of the journalists of historical reporting events seems to be contrary to their role which has been based on publicizing new information rather than offering old content on their platforms. The journalist’s role of gatekeeping of collective information is seen on a daily basis because there are world events that seem to be in their databases and they offer insight into what the world had been during the past.

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These events come in the form of commemorations where there is an anniversary date that is set to remember the occurrence of those events because they hold an important role in the society. In reality, when the collective memories occur there can also be a collective forgetting, and that is the reason why there are reenactments, laying of wreaths and general public speeches because the government may have some form of social authority (Edy, 85). The authorities may also use the journalists to ensure that historical, contexts, historical analogies and events are given a social consensus so that people do not forget how that occurrence shaped them. The 21st century continues to be a challenging time for journalists as the gatekeepers of collective memory because technology has been able to impact changes over the way people receive and share information.

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Therefore, sites like YouTube which have the capacity to present information in the form of audio and visual have made people seek alternative sources of getting information when they do not trust the media houses to provide the correct information. Other social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and the others have also been vital in ensuring that the journalists are not the only people who have the ability to capture, store and share information (Spinney, 168). However, the social media sites can also be compromised by authorities and the government to censor the type of information that is being dispersed to the public. In this context, it means that going forward into the future, and the journalists are supposed to ensure that they maintain their credibility by offering unbiased information to the public so that they can continue keeping their highly rated profession in check.

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