A pundit is a person who is adept, proficient in a peculiar subject or field, an erudite, who is engaged to give mass media opinion or commentary on subjects. It covers politics, technology, sports, entertainment and even more.
Let’s Take A Second Look At Some Pundits On Our Show.
The word pundit is an extraction from the Sanskrit word “pandit” which means wise, educated and learned. In extension, an authority in various subjects, who conducts religious ceremonies, offers counsel to the king and from the Hindu Brahmin caste. It may equally refer to the Siddhas, Siddhas, Ascetics, Sadhas or Yogis. By 1816, its meaning has been generalized to refer to any learned man in English.
In recent times pundits are seen conflating the roles of the public’s highbrowed with the skill and expertise of a media practitioner. It has equally become a well rewarding profession. Pundits do not only enhance the listenership of a show but some are actually the attraction for the show itself. .
A-list pundits like Gary Lineker, of BBC’s Famous Match of the Day Premier League highlights programme, one of the best in the world rakes in as much as £1.36 million annually.
From the establishment of the first radio in Ghana, Radio Zoy in 1935,the Ghanaian media has embraced so much growth including all that is avant garde.
Opinions of pundits tend to shape the views of the public to a large extent. Aside, the magic that radio and television itself wields,pundits are seen as credible people and their position on issues receive a lot of consideration. This reality has its own challenges especially when pundits aren’t credible or do not have the authority over the issues in focus. hey may also purposely use their influence to mislead the public.
Radio RTLM’s of Rwanda’s hateful transmissions made by radio host Kantano Habimama and fellow commentators and pundits Valerie Bemeriki (a Rwadan government propagandist then) as well as Italian-Belgian Georges Ruggiu is said to have resulted in about 10% of all violence in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
Pundits are expected to have the expertise, knowledge, be professional and ethical in the administration of their duties. Principles such as impartiality, objectivity, balance, privacy without bias can’t and shouldn’t be compromised.
I stand to be corrected but it is not the case in Ghana today. No disrespect intended but you are most likely to find square pegs in round holes, unprofessional people parading themselves as authorities on subjects and controversial people planted as pundits to say ridiculous things that may bring traffic to the show. There also characters who make unverifiable claims, posing as professionals in fields they haven’t received the required training and education to speak about( marriage counsellors).Being eloquent or fluent is also a magic wand, that may earn you the tag of a pundit.
There’s also the tendency of holding discussions and filling shows with crownies to give them followers and relevance. My last observation is also a creepy reality of seeing these unprofessionals projected into gatekeepers from the entertainment industry and more.
The standards keep falling and we can only hope the National Mass Media Commission and other stakeholders make a timely intervention to curb this.
I am appealing to the various media houses to screen more carefully people they engage as show panelists, commentators and pundits as their effect on the masses is significant.
I have witnessed a lady losing her self esteem over an unfortunate comment passed by a radio show pundit about single mothers. People who play these roles shouldn’t be unacquainted about media ethics or be seen contravening them.
Long live Ghana.