Media Regulation – the big idea – Gatekeeping v Freedom of speech

We noticed that many of you spent too much time, describing in too much detail, the various case studies and examples. You need the bare bones for these as you need to spend the rest of the time, broaching the key contexts and debates in order to maximise your marks.

The key concepts that should be on your radar are:


- A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, for example via a city gate or bouncer, or more abstractly, controls who is granted access to a category or status.

So in terms of Media Regulation – they are either the officially recognised bodies that regulate the media or the individual groups elected by the Media platform themselves.

  • ASA
  • UK ONLINE HARMS BILL  – to be made law next year
  • THE USERS – you and me
  • REGULATORS ON EACH PLATFORM i.e. The Oversight Board on Facebook
    • but are they “emptying the ocean with an eyedropper”?
  • You and Me – the consumer.

The main debate about Gatekeepers is that:

  • They regulate content and therefore the contributors – they are powerful!
  • The Internet promised to allow free speech and expression – and has now come unstuck because of this – ‘move fast and break things has become move fast and fix things.’
  • Gatekeeping is dependent on many external factors that relate often, to the culture, politics, country, religion where the media is produced – in other words – gatekeeping is culturally reactive.

How do you resolve the ever present argument of:

“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.” — Noam Chomsky


  • Freedom of Speech vs Protection from Harm
  • Pluralist vs Moralist
  • Gatekeeping vs Democratisation
  • Media Regulation will never be watertight – it has to react to technological advancements/convergence.
  • Media Regulation changes over time – historically it reacts to technology and cultural zeitgeists.
  • Media Regulation is closely linked to:
      • Moral Panics
  • Media Regulation can be covert, subversive and ‘invisible’ – think of Chinese interference with internet access
  • Media Regulation has to determine the minefield of:
      • Public v. private
  • Postmodern society is built on the foundations of ‘no absolute truths’ and mini- narratives and Regulation contradicts this zeitgeist.
      • Self Regulation
      • Begs the question that perhaps China has got it right – the re-introduction of the absolute truths/the grand narratives through the back door of covert and subversive regulation of its citizens accessing the internet, may in fact make life simpler, safer and easier to navigate?


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