A gatekeeper is a person who controls access, opportunity, or power. The gatekeeper’s role is to discriminate and filter candidates.
In many cases, gatekeepers are responsible for keeping out people considered undesirable or dangerous. For example, security guards at a building entrance are acting as gatekeepers, keeping out intruders and protecting the people inside.
In other cases, gatekeepers may be responsible for letting people into a particular area. For example, concierges at upscale hotels often act as gatekeepers, determining which guests have the necessary credentials to enter the hotel’s VIP lounge.
In both cases, gatekeepers play an important role in controlling access to something (see also: gatekeeping theory).
1. Newspaper Editors
Editors of newspapers can decide what articles can be published and what is not good enough to go into the newspaper.
Back when newspapers were the primary type of mass media, these gatekeepers were extremely powerful. They could control what information society could access, and what information would be censored.
But with the rise of new media, newspaper editors are less powerful. Information can now be proliferated by anyone with a social media account, website, or YouTube channel. This breakdown of information gatekeepers is a key hallmark of the Web 2.0 era.
2. Blind Peer Reviewers
After academic researchers have completed their studies, they publish the results in academic journals. They have to submit an article to a journal, and then the journal sends out the article to blind peer reviewers (who are experts in the field) to determine if the study was rigorous.
The reviewers are ‘blind’, meaning they don’t know who conducted the study and they will be anonymous to everyone but the journal’s editor. This is to minimize relationship bias.
These gatekeepers are necessary to maintain the high standards of academic research. It helps ensure the research is trusted and filters out low-quality research.
3. TV Program Directors
Programming directors get to decide which television shows will go to air and which ones won’t. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, these program directors were very conservative in their programming decisions. For example, it was considered too risky to display gay relationships on television.
Today, with the rise of streaming platforms and HBO, more risque content is often published. Furthermore, as society has evolved, gay storylines are much more acceptable to the gatekeepers. Similarly, these gatekeepers are more aware of the importance of representing people of multiple different ethnic and racial backgrounds in their programming.
4. Casting Directors
Casting directors play a critical role in determining which actors and actresses will be considered for roles in film, television, and theater productions.
While it is ultimately up to the producers and directors to make the final decision, casting directors are responsible for conducting auditions and narrowing down the pool of potential candidates. In many cases, they also provide feedback and recommendations to the decision-makers.
Casting directors may look out for new talent, or they may focus on choosing actors and actresses who have already proven themselves in previous roles. Either way, they play an important role in deciding who gets to be a part of a particular production.
5. Literary Agents
When an author has finished writing a book, the next step is to find a literary agent who will represent the author and help to sell the book to a publisher.
To do this, the agent must believe in the book and think that it has a good chance of being successful. Therefore, they act as a filter, choosing which books they will represent and which they will not.
While this system does have its flaws, it does ensure that only the best books make it onto shelves. Without literary agents, the publishing industry would be much less efficient and many great books would never be
Bouncers filter who gets into the club or pub. They are responsible for checking IDs, collecting cover charges, and monitoring the flow of people in and out of the venue.
A bouncer may reject someone from entering a club, or even eject them after entry, if they have drunk too much, are unruly, or are too young.
Generally, their role is to enforce the law. For example, the law says you have to be above a certain age to get into a club. But they also enforce the rules of the club. For example, there might be a dress code that needs to be followed.
At elite clubs, a bouncer may also turn someone back if they are not considered to be cool or attractive enough. This is known as ‘face control’.
7. Customs Agents
Customs agents are responsible for ensuring that all individuals and goods entering a country do so legally. They typically work at airports, seaports, and land border crossings.
The customs agents are the frontline of gatekeepers for choosing who and what can enter the country, and what can’t.
They inspect documents and perform searches of people and their belongings. They also collect duties and taxes on imported goods.
In some cases, customs agents may need to detain individuals or seize goods that have been illegally imported.
8. Immigration Officers
When people apply for residency in a country, they need to go through a bunch of hoops and jump a lot of metaphorical hurdles to get over the line.
It is the role of the immigration officer to make sure people have gone through those hoops. Examples include taking language and medical exams, showing proof of funds, showing proof of a job, and presenting your passport and biometrics.
It is the immigration officer’s job to act as the gatekeeper who will determine who can become a resident of the country and who cannot.
9. University Admissions Officers
A university admissions officer is responsible for reviewing student applications and making decisions about who to admit to the school.
Admissions officers consider many factors when making their decisions, including the students’ academic records, test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.
In addition, admissions officers may also meet with applicants in person to get a better sense of their abilities and interests. Ultimately, the goal of a university admissions officer is to identify and admit those students who will be successful at the school and contribute to the campus community while keeping out people who are less likely to be successful at the university.
10. Home Loan Officers
A bank loan officer approves or denies loan applications for individuals or businesses. It’s the bank loan officer’s responsibility to make sure that the people and businesses who receive loans will be able to repay them.
The loan officer will review the applicant’s credit history, employment history, and financial situation to determine if they are a good candidate for a loan. If the loan is for a business, the loan officer may also require collateral to secure the loan.
Here, we can see how bank loan officers act as gatekeepers for a bank’s money. They will only accept people with good financial foundations who will be able to pay back any loan that is paid out by the bank.
11. Angel Investors
An angel investor is a wealthy individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for an ownership stake.
Angels are typically more willing than banks to invest in risky ventures, and they often offer valuable mentorship and advice to young companies.
While there is no hard and fast rule for what makes a good investment for an angel, they typically look for businesses with high growth potential in sectors that they are familiar with.
They also tend to prefer companies that have a strong management team in place and a clear plan for how they will use the funds. As a result, we can see how angel investors will act as a gatekeeper for their own money.
12. President’s Chief of Staff
The president of the United States is a notoriously difficult person to get a hold of. His time is so precious that he will only talk to particularly important people like heads of state of other countries.
The chief of staff is in charge of choosing who will get an audience with the president and who won’t. He will ‘triage’ the list of people who want to see him by choosing only the people who will be most helpful to the president, or, who are in most need of speaking with him (or her!).
A recruiter is responsible for finding and hiring employees for a company. They need to choose who will be good in a job, and who should be rejected.
This process begins with advertising open positions, either through job postings or by reaching out to potential candidates. Once applications are received, the recruiter will review them and select the most qualified candidates to move on to the next stage of the process, which typically includes an interview.
The recruiter will then make a recommendation to the hiring manager, who will make the final decision.
Throughout all of these stages, the recruiter strives to find the best possible candidates for the company while providing a positive experience for everyone involved.
14. Radio Programming Directors
The decision about what will (and will not) be played on the radio is highly political.
For example, Alanis Morisette found early in her career that she often wouldn’t be played on the radio because there was already another female singer being played on the radio. In this case, the sexism of the gatekeeper acted as an injustice, keeping female musicians out of the industry.
Similarly, in country music, radio airtime is often given out to different publishers based on their relationship with the programming director rather than the quality of the music.
15. Jury Selection
In the United States, jury selection is a process that is overseen by the judge in a criminal or civil case. Potential jurors are typically chosen at random from a pool of eligible citizens.
During jury selection, both the prosecution and defense will have an opportunity to ask questions of the potential jurors in order to determine if they are impartial and able to render a fair verdict.
For example, jurors must not have any personal connections to the case or to any of the parties involved. People with strong political views or ideas out of the mainstream on issues of race or gender may be excluded during the preselection phase.
A coach must take many things into consideration when selecting his team.
First, he might evaluate each player’s skill level and identify which positions they are best suited for. He must also consider the player’s work ethic and attitude, as these can be just as important as their physical ability.
Finally, he may need to make sure that he has a balance of experience and youth on the team. By taking all of these factors into account, a coach can ensure that he has a squad that is not only capable of winning games but also willing to work hard and learn from their mistakes.
17. MENSA Entry Requirements
MENSA is an international organization for people with high IQs. The Mensa name comes from the Latin word for “table” and symbolizes that MENSA members form a society where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged freely.
Anyone who scores in the top 2% of any standard intelligence test is eligible for membership. There are about 100,000 members in 100 countries around the world.
As an exclusive organization, MENSA acts as a gatekeeper, setting a standard for who can get in and who cannot. This gatekeeping role ensures the members inside of MENSA maintain high social status for their work.
These are just a few examples of gatekeepers in our world. While some gatekeepers act as an injustice, others simply set a standard for upholding the law or protecting society. What all of these examples have in common is that they hold the power to control who gets access to certain opportunities and places. This power can be used for good or for ill.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.