Not at Risk? News, Gatekeeping, and Missing Teens

Carol M. Liebler, Wasim Ahmad, Gina Gayle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study examines the gatekeeping of missing teens through content analysis and in-depth interviews. The first phase of the study examines the extent to which missing teens are visible across legacy news and social media outlets, and the degree to which age, race and gender are predictors of (in)visibility. With a focus on the routines level of analysis, it then investigates via key gatekeepers why news media cover some teens and not others. The findings of this study indicate that age, gender, race and ethnicity all factor into the degree of visibility a missing teen receives in both legacy and social media. The latter are key resources for both police and journalists in publicizing a missing teen, and as a result, social media afford missing teens more visibility than do legacy media. Notably, the police are the primary gatekeepers in reporting on missing teens, with journalists following their lead. Both, however, function within a larger social context that disenfranchises teens from marginalized groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournalism Practice
StatePublished - 2020


  • Missing teens
  • gatekeeping
  • news
  • news routines
  • police
  • runaways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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