Gatekeeping in action: Editorial conferences and assessments of newsworthiness

Steven E. Clayman, Ann Reisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study how newspaper editors, in conference meetings, jointly determine which stories will appear on the front page. Previous research on editorial gatekeeping has identified various standards of newsworthiness that serve as selection criteria. We focus on the actual practices through which gatekeeping decisions are rendered. We provide an overview of the primary phases of activity in conference meetings, identify various practices for promoting stories as page-one material, and analyze in detail one particular practice - verbal assessments of newsworthiness. We find that editors display a systematic preference for mildly favorable assessments over both stronger and weaker ones, apparently because restrained support enables them to maintain solidary relations with reporters and editorial colleagues. Moreover, assessment favorability is significantly associated with gatekeeping outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-199
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican sociological review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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