One thing which will make me click on a post in my Google Reader is when a newspaper article comes with the headline “Expert: (blah blah blah)”. Not because I trust the content of the article more than any old journamalistic blather but because I’m curious about what “Expert” means this time. Researches? Practitioners? Somebody working in a bank? Or perhaps even the proverbial man in the street?
Today, DR promised me the following: “Expert: Voters put priority on the economy” – which might suggest an advantage for the government, despite recent polls showing that the opposition is managing to challenge the government among voter.
So, who is the expert? I would have expected somebody doing serious electoral research as the question about issue ownership is one of the classical themes in this line of political science and if you look in any of the books published about Danish elections, the subject is addressed.
But, no. The expert in this case was – a journalist. And not just any journalist, but Thomas Larsen, a commentator for Berlingske Tidende. And just to make things really funny, there has been some discussion recently about the relationship between Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Thomas Larsen – here is a view from the left and here from the right. And if you want more fun, here’s Politiken and here is Larsen’s [irony]old friend[/irony] Jarl Cordua on the trail.
Okay: To me, DR fails because there is real expertise out there (even though electoral researchers might be allowed a Saturday out). So basically, I would not trust DR to know or have any kind of criteria about what constitutes expertise in these matters. I’m not quite sure what to make about Thomas Larsen – I don’t have any particular axe to grind with him, and I suspect that there is a lot of bad blood and hurt feelings between some of the people in this circuit, but I do think that the media in general and DR in particular ought to be more careful in the presentation of political op-ed writers as independent analysts. Or even experts.