gatekeeping: the press

Note, I started this several days ago, before the BoT finally announced its decision to find a different president for Gallaudet.

Joseph Rainmound has an excellent article explaining the process of “Gatekeeping” and how it applies to Gallaudet University. I want to take this concept a step further, and examine how gatekeeping is abetted and reinforced by multiple agencies.

Has anyone else noticed how frequently the press congregates around the protesting students only to be frustrated by “lack of communication” — i.e. the reporters do not know ASL?

So what has the press then done? It has several choices at this point, of course: find out a way to communicate with the students; don’t bother with reporting their position; accept some other agencies reports instead. What should a critical, independent creative journalist do under these circumstances? Remember ASL is another language, you can formulate the above problem substituting Spanish speaking protesters, etc.

As far as I can tell, based on these links (here, here, here, here, here, and here), the press corps around Gallaudet university have simply taken the Gallaudet administration’s press releases and reports and such and used only these with some few exceptions (here, here…notice how many of these are written by people already conversant with the issues, guest writers). In other words, the press corps has cooperated with and become a part of the gatekeeping process. WaPo’s complicity is especially baffling, it is local, it knows Gallaudet is composed of deaf students, many of whom communicate through ASL. And yet most of the links above are from WaPo and do little more than parrot what the administration fed it.

I challenge the press corps covering the protests at Gallaudet: Why have you not brought your own interpreters along and talked with the students? This is a well known university with a well-known purpose. Why do your journalists appear on the scenes and then seem to be completely stymied that they cannot converse with the students without an interpreter along? How difficult is this to figure out? Why are there so few attempts to talk with the protesters directly? Why is the press happy to interview the Gallaudet administration instead? Why do none of you ask yourselves how to get the complete story?

More to the point, why did you not use the same resources I did? I went online and googled up countless first hand stories, articles written by deeply concerned people on what was happening at Gallaudet. I found so much information I could digest only a fraction of it. Why did none of your reporters do the same? Why are you, the press corps, functioning as a gatekeeper in the same fashion that Gallaudet is?

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