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From party agitators to independent pundits The changed historical roles of newspaper and television journalists in Norwegian election campaigns

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The focus of this article is the changing roles of the pundits of the press during national election campaigns and the consequences for the political role of television news and newspapers. Three election campaigns 1965, 1989 and 2009 are compared, mainly through content analyses. In 1965 most political commentators in the national and regional newspapers were leading party members, the members of the press lobby even meeting regularly in the party's groups in Stortinget (the Norwegian parliament). Their role as interpreters and agitators was on behalf of their party and its ideology. In 1989 the party press was nearly abolished and the National Broadcasting Company had for long exercised full control over their election debates. The questioning programmes had been developed into tough interrogations, nicknamed as grilling of the politicians. Most of the political commentators of the press were now formally independent, however often with strong political and ideological roots in the old party system. During the national election campaign in 2009 the political commentators had a new and far more visible role than in the public debate, compared with 1965 and 1989. The leading commentators are published more prominently than before, and are used as trademark for their own newspapers. The pundit elite has also been elevated to the role of chief experts on the political horse race in television news and debates.
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Keywords: Norway; election campaigns; journalism; media history; political commentators; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stockholm University, Sweden.

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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