Newspaper opinion writers perform an important function. If they didn't, there wouldn't be so many of them because nobody would be reading them. And as a group ---often known as the commentariat --- opinion columnists can be powerful. (See generally a short but important study concerning British opinion writers published in 2008 by Julia Hobsbawn and John Lloyd: The Power of the Commentariat). But writing a weekly or twice-weekly newspaper column is hard, very hard. You have to have something other-than-trite to say; at least you hope so. You have to write as elegantly as you can. And you have to hope that enough people read you or else the Editor will end your column. Now, I know this from personal experience because for a good many years I supported myself as a columnist, once writing three columns a week for different newspapers on different subjects, all while trying to earn a degree in law.
"Yet journalism is a critical point. Political journalism in particular must cope with a fragmenting political sphere, the rise of fleet-footed competition from blogs and websites and the decline of an audience. Journalism and politics have, for two centuries, depended on, fought with, supported and tried to destroy each other. Now they sigh for the good old days when they were both certain enough of their respective institutions to engage in combat." -- John Lloyd, Power and the press, Financial Times, February 20 2010