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How Newspaper Op-eds Influence Opinions of Public at Large?

Newspapers and news channels play a very important role in shaping the opinions and views of the public at large. As per a study that was conducted and published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, it was observed that the op-ed pieces published in the newspapers shape up the opinions and views of the public, irrespective of their political beliefs. This was established by conducting two researches. The op- ed or “opposite to the editorial page”, was launched first by the New York Times in September 1970. In today’s world these have become extremely common in all kinds of newspapers. Various advocacy groups, political organisations etc. put in a lot of time and effort in generating op-ed pieces.

A big question was that- Is all the time that is invested in creating op-eds worth the effort? The answer to this was that op-eds do have a profound impact on the minds of the people. During the experiment 3,567 people were enrolled using an online tool. Participants were assigned into a control group or one of five “treatment” groups. Participants in the treatment groups were shown one of five op-eds that were published in a major news outlet. Participants in the control group were not provided with an op-ed to read. Reactions of the participants were analysed and surveyed 10 and 30 days later. Further, the experiment was conducted on 2,169 “elites,” including journalists, law professors, policy-focused academics, think tank scholars, bankers, and congressional staffers. The study concluded that people exposed to op-eds shifted their views to support the argument presented in the piece. It was found that general public was more influenced than the elites. Hence, it can be said that op-eds are a cost effective way to influence views of the people at large.

By: Anuja Arora


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