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Structure and Process of Opinion Formation in the Genre of Commentary

Structure and Process of Opinion Formation in the Genre of Commentary

Commentaries attract particular attention as the signboard for newspapers. By commenting, newspapers position themselves where opinions are marketed and set themselves apart from their competitors. It is in the genre of commentary, so far largely ignored by researchers, that a society’s stock of topics with potentially political relevance finds expression. Here, the structures and processes of this discourse might well be discernable with particular clarity.


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Project Description

These considerations formed the point of departure for a DFG (German Research Foundation) project on the discourse of commentary in the transregional daily press between 1994 and 1998. In cooperation with several other authors (including U. Hasebrink) the applicants (C. Eilders, F. Neidhardt and B. Pfetsch) published the volume „Die Stimme der Medien. Pressekommentare und politische Öffentlichkeit in der Bundesrepublik [The Voices of the Media. Press Commentaries and Public Politics in the Federal Republic]" and presented the results of substantial contents analysis of influential German daily newspapers as well as of a questionnaire submitted to the relevant commentators.

These findings were incorporated into the postdoctoral thesis of C. Eilders and related to a basis in theory on the public sphere. Commentaries were conceptualised as a specific expression of public opinion, and commentators discussed as a type of voice within the public sphere as communications system.

In further publications and talks, what theory on the public sphere sees as the significance of commentaries as expression of the status of media as agents and also what it sees as its fundamental principles were related to questions of research into reception and effects.

Project Information


Duration: 2002-2007

Research programme:
Further Projects

Third party

Cooperation Partner

F. Neidhardt, B. Pfetsch

Contact person



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