The power of political commentators in the age of social media
This dissertation analyses the power and democratic function of political commentators writing for legacy newspapers in contemporary Norway. Although such commentators are highly visible in the public debate, this study finds that their overall readership has decreased significantly in the last decade. Commentators increasingly form and inform an elite group of writers and readers. Whilst the limited scholarly literature is predominantly critical of commentators, this study argues that the increasing fragmentation of the public sphere calls for reappraisal. Commentators, benefiting from a privileged access to elite political sources, are in a position where they may inform the electorate by interpreting, analysing, and explaining complex political processes. To fulfil this remit and thus live up to their democratic function, legacy newspapers must strive to meet new demands of accessibility and representation. By employing a mixed methods research design, this dissertation analyses Norway’s fraught media landscape through the frameworks provided by Bourdieu, Habermas, Anderson and Sunstein, with the aim to analyse commentators in a new context – the age of social media.