Media Literacy



GATEKEEPER is a term used to refer to a person or persons who control the flow of information. These are the individuals who allow information to pass through them to be disseminated out to the public. A GATEKEEPER decides what information the pubic should receive; what information should be accepted or rejected or kept from public consumption. Newspaper publishers, editors, reporters, television and radio producers and station owners, broadcasting executives, and even presidential press secretaries have all been media GATEKEEPERS.

During the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt the Gatekeepers of the American press (editors, reporters, etc.) felt it important that the American public have the perception that Roosevelt was a vigorous and strong leader. It was a period in which the country faced domestic and international crises: the Depression of 1929, and World War II. During that time pictures printed in the newspaper, or broadcast in newsreel clips in movie theaters gave this impression. The GATEKEEPERS had made a conscious decision not to show Roosevelt's disability or infirmities. He suffered from polio....needed braces and physical assistance to walk even short distances and was often confined to a wheelchair.

fdrwheelchair.jpg (12091 bytes)Most American citizens did not know that Roosevelt was crippled by polio. It was not referred to in print and pictures of a "disabled" president were kept out of the American media. They were also kept out of the international media. This was a time of war and it was deemed imperative that the leader of the United States be perceived as strong, able to lead the country to victory in wars in the pacific and in Europe. Even the meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Stalin show Roosevelt bundled against the cold with a robe on his lap....never his crutches or wheelchair.

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Today GATEKEEPERS are employed officially by the US government for disseminating information about war. A military spokesman gives periodic information to the international press pool of reporters. The press, and therefore by extension, the public receive only the information that the government wants distributed.