A Research Fellowship in ‘e’Punditry, i.e. new media forms of opinion and commentary (.3 post over 3 years).

InGSoc breaks down into three discrete, manageable and viable projects: the population census project, the epunditry project and the social philosophy project. Each of these meets a fresh challenge and will fill a significant gap in current knowledge. Each has its own set of research questions and problems, although they all engage with the same basic intellectual agenda—helping to move information policy into its next phase.

The epunditry project, which will be undertaken by a Research Fellow, will address a vital and topical issue for the ‘good society’: the changing nature of opinion columns and punditry. The decline of newspaper circulations in most developed countries, and consequent reduction in the reach of signed columns, alongside the phenomenal growth of blogging and other forms of online opinion-expression, raises the basic question: is epunditry, i.e. electronic modes of commentary and (pseudo-)expertise, replacing traditional ‘op-ed’? If it is, what are the implications for the nature and social role of the pundit, and for both the press and its putative successors? Is it the case that the classical ‘fourth estate’ is giving way to a ‘fifth estate’ and if so, how core will epunditry be in the new dispensation? While the Leveson Inquiry has returned standards of news reporting to public attention, the question of the quality of political opinion-writing is also one that is of major significance for a healthy, informed democracy. There are also wider questions about the future of expertise in an information-saturated society. Tackling an important set of issues about the social role of information, broadly conceived, this project aims to make a significant contribution to both research and public affairs.