ECPR General Conference
University of Iceland, Reykjavík
25 - 27 August 2011

From Conflict to Cooperation – A New Relationship between Journalists and Experts


Commonly it’s stated that many journalists find experts, including social scientists, difficult “to use”, and consequently such experts are underrepresented in daily news media. However, in countries where fields of media and journalism have changed dramatically, introducing a struggle between user paid and user gratis news and between journalists positioned in PR and news, this assumption may prove wrong. Due to such changes, the main relationship between social scientists and journalists seems to have shifted from competition regarding legitimate positions in society (e.g. Bourdieu, 1998/1996) to a common position as representatives of institutions, which in political sense are neutral, in opposition to politicians and lobbyists in the struggle over the discursive construction of society in newspaper journalism. This paper explores such changes theoretically and empirically in a discourse analysis of front-page news stories in Danish newspapers from four decades. The analysis shows that these news stories are most explanatory in the latest decade and that Members of Parliament and representatives of powerful organizations have been replaced by experts and journalists as the exponents of explanations at front pages and hence as main “discursive constructors of reality”.
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"Aristocracies … may preserve themselves longest, but only democracies, which refresh their ruling class, can expand" - Hugh Trevor-Roper

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