Journalists sometimes feel external pressure directly.

A worker wants to protect his boss.

A tearful wife does not want her husband's name used in a bank embezzlement story.

A local ski hill offers the entire radio station staff free ski passes.

The relationship between journalists and publicists can be fraught with ethical problems.

More serious are "staged events" or "staged news".

A contrived "photo opportunity".

Bringing attention to an old product to give it a boost in the marketplace.


The Calgary Herald

National news and advertising

Cambodia Times, a national newspaper that offers full-text versions of stories from its print edition.

Jerusalem Post which offers full-text coverage of Middle East issues on its Internet version along with editorial and opinion columns.

London Electronic Telegraph that has a glitzy site that includes crossword puzzles, global news and coverage and comment from the British Isles.

Melbourne Herald Sun Interactive includes links to national Australian classified advertising section with up to 35,000 ads.


News dispatches and photographs are subject to changes at many points in the communication chain.

At these points, called gates, gatekeepers delete, trim, embellish and otherwise try to make news items more "newsworthy".

Along the path from its originator to the eventual audience, a message is subject to all kinds of deletions, additions and changes of emphasis. Example: Oldman Dam story. With large news organizations, this process may involve dozens of editors and other persons.

Also, a reporter who emphasizes one aspect of an event while ignoring another is a gatekeeper. WCB stories


Most gatekeepers are invisible to the news audience, working behind the scenes and making crucial decisions.

Some journalist clubs include:

The Online Press Club.

Media Source which offers resources and sources to journalists.

John Mukulowich's Awesome List

NICAR which is the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting.

Pulitizer Price the top prize for top work.

Reporter's Internet Survival Guide for information covering a beat.

Society for Professional Journalists for research links and ethic codes.

Special Libraries Association News Division for research links.


The trials of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka provide an interesting case study of gatekeeping. The St. Catherines, Ontario couple were convicted of the abduction and deaths of Kirsten French and Leslie Mahaffrey of nearby Burlington.

Judge Francis Kovacs issued the following orders about how information relating to the trial was to be reported.

  • Only accredited Canadian news media could attend the trial
  • The public was to be banned from the courtroom
  • No foreign media reporters allowed in the courtroom
  • There would be a ban on publication of circumstances of the murders (voir dire), but certain procedural matters could be broadcast

The reason Kovacs gave the ban was simple: to ensure that Paul Bernardo received a fair trial.

The ban proved problematic because much of the banned information was broadcast on American television and posted on the Internet in various newsgroups.

Reporting the details of Homolka's trial made it difficult for reporters to report on Bernardo's trial.

  • The volume of evidence released about Bernardo and evidence surrounding Homolka's trial
  • The nature of the evidence which was graphic and violent.

Homolka's trial lasted only 2 days.

Bernardo's trial was different, with many details reporters found repulsive. The rapes and deaths shattered the "small town pastorialism" of St. Catherines.

Reporters had a duty to report the story, but not all of it, just enough details so the public could understand what had happened.

Even after extensive editing and debate over the graphic sexual and violent evidence, announcers would often preface a broadcast news story by saying that the content might be offensive to some.


The Associated Press is the largest news-gathering organization, with bureaus in 71 countries. In the United States, AP has 142 bureaus in state capitals and major cities.

Agence-France-Presse founded in 1835 by Charles Havas in Paris using carrier pigeons.

Tass the Moscow-based news agency which was founded in 1918 just after the Bolshevik Revolution. Supplies reports in Russian, English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic to 5500 media and non-media subscribers


Some of the wire services online include:


United Press International

Canadian Press and Broadcast News

The Canadian Press (CP) supplies news to both French and English journalists.

CP was founded in 1917 and is a co-operative venture owned and funded by daily newspapers in Canada.

Some facts about CP.

  • 88 newspapers are members of CP
  • CP's photo service provides 1400 photos a week
  • Newspapers can receive up to 300 columns of news per day
  • CP has a French language service called La Presse Canadienne (PC) in Montreal, as well as a French radio service, Nouvelle Tele-Radio (NTR).


BN Data Service provides hourly news summaries and features such as weather, provincial news, entertainment, sports, health and lifestyle.

  • BN audio Service provides both hourly newscasts and actualities
  • BN's Cablestream Service is a news service used by 150 cable stations


  • Since 1970, news outlets now hire people with Journalism or General Studies degrees.
  • Soft news and celebrity news has gained a new found respectability with People Magazine and Entertainment Magazine and Television Show.
  • Journalism continues to be an "art" and not a "science".
  • Judgements, rather than formulas, determine which events are reported and how.
  • No two journalists will report a story in the same manner.
  • The hazards of the news-gathering process are most obvious with foreign coverage.
  • The consolidation of news-gathering like Associated Press continues to create great economies in covering far-away events and issues.


Abridged version of Chapter Eight:

Vivian, John and Peter, Maurin (1999). " Journalism". The Media of Mass Communication. Allyn and Bacon Canada, Scarborough, Ontario.