Other than providing news, newspapers also have segmented opinion sections such as editorials, opinion columns, op-eds and letters to the editor. Members of the editorial board of a newspaper usually write editorials; as a result, no single journalist attaches his or her name to the column, often referred to as an “unsigned editorial.” Similarly, the op-ed section broadens the range of views to which the public are exposed, stimulate debate and nurture community engagement.
Kimberly Kelling, assistant professor of the Department of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and Ryan Thomas, associate professor of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, examined the roles opinion journalists deem most applicable to their work. The authors surveyed 117 opinion journalists in the United States.
Opinion journalists indicated that the monitorial role is of paramount importance to their job, which includes detective and watchdog elements. They also acted as a collaborator. Through a participatory role, journalists invite civic participation. The other roles included educator, community builder, curator, advocate, change agent, disseminator, and missionary. Through missionary role, opinion journalists promote certain ideals, values, and causes.
Although the study covered journalists from newspapers, online media and magazines, its findings found no differences exist in role conceptions among journalists operating in different media platforms.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2BXdyWP
Kelling, K., & Thomas, R. J. (2018). The roles and functions of opinion journalists. Newspaper Research Journal, 39(4), 398-419.