Opinion Leadership| Mediatized Opinion Leaders: New Patterns of Opinion Leadership in New Media Environments?
The study analyzes which forms opinion leadership takes in contemporary media environments where communication channels have increased and started to permeate interpersonal interaction. Some scholars assume that opinion leadership becomes more important under these conditions, as more media are available to enact it, and that more orientation is needed. Others argue that opinion leadership loses its importance as online media target audiences directly without interaction from opinion leaders. This study demonstrates that opinion leadership still exists in contemporary media environments. Using a cluster analysis of German online survey data, three clusters were identified that resemble communicative roles from earlier studies: Opinion Leaders, Followers, and Inactives. An additional fourth cluster, Mediatized Opinion Leaders, was also found. Individuals in this cluster exhibit the strongest and most diverse use of media and communication channels both for informing themselves and for communicating with followers.