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Constructing Political Expertise in the News

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2023

Kathleen Searles
Louisiana State University
Yanna Krupnikov
Stony Brook University, State University of New York
John Barry Ryan
Stony Brook University, State University of New York
Hillary Style
Stony Brook University, State University of New York


Expert news sources offer context and act as translators, communicating complex policy issues to the public. Therefore, these sources have implications for who, and what is elevated and legitimized by news coverage. This element considers patterns in expert sources, focusing on a particular area of expertise: politics. As a starting point, it conducts a content analysis tracking which types of political experts are most likely to be interviewed, using this analysis to explain patterns in expert sourcing. Building on the source data, it next conducts experiments and surveys of journalists to consider demand for expert sources. Finally, shifting the analysis to the supply of expert sources, it turns to a survey of faculty to track expert experiences with journalists. Jointly, the results suggest underlying patterns in expert sourcing is a tension between journalists' preferences, the time constraints of producing news, and the preferences of the experts themselves.
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Online ISBN: 9781009104289
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 23 February 2023

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