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CAUTION! Let’s All Watch It, Pundits!

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

The proliferation of entertainment talk shows on radio and TV also saw the emergence of punditry and pundits – which has almost become a critical element of such shows and the industry as a whole.

Pundits have come under scrutiny for the role they play in elevating practitioners of the trade and the shaping of the creative industry but most recently, pundits have come under some severe examination over how they purvey their duties on various platforms.

Pundits have been accused of using their varied platforms to run down entertainers, belittle their brand and repudiate their efforts – and a section of the public and other industry folks are now coming at these pundits, hard!

Stop It, Every One Has Emotions

It is galling to have people talk about how difficult it is for pundits to accept criticism and how uncomfortable it is for pundits to receive backlash.

The fact is; every one of us has feelings, emotions, and reacts, especially when they are chastised. Nobody smiles to criticism and is not affected by negativity. We all feel it including the entertainers and the fans.

When Aisha Mode sat on Peace FM and chided Sarkodie over his feud with Stonebwoy, the rapper felt it and had to respond in a song. When broadcaster Kwasi Aboagye refused to grant Sarkodie an interview when the artiste was in the premises, the artiste felt it and reacted in a song. When I slighted Shatta Wale over some comments he passed on the industry, he reacted strongly and topped it up with a ‘diss’ song – and when I described some of the Shatta Movement fan base as low-minded, they reacted.

Therefore, it is a fallacy for anybody to spew that pundits, critics and radio presenters do not fancy being criticized or attacked. Nobody does!

Pundits Have Become Part of the Attraction

Pundits are expected to be subject matter experts, having the requisite expertise and knowledge to speak on various subjects, They are also expected to be objective, impartial, professional and ethical in the administration of their duties. In as much as having biases is a human tendency, it should not in any way, affect the duties of the pundit.

It’s been decades since entertainment talk shows became a mainstay in our creative industry and indisputably, the pedigree and popularity of most of these shows across the country are hinged on the personalities and performances of some of the pundits.

The onerous fact is that, for most of these shows, some pundits are actually the draw.

Exhibition of Ignorance

On the heels of pundits coming under scrutiny, some persons have questioned the relevance of pundits, sadly – making it sound as though punditry and the task of these pundits do not matter.

Most of these naysayers are oblivious of the structure that pertains in the showbiz industry. Just like every sector, there are major players, stakeholders, policy makers, partners, corporate firms that are all engaged in the business and then there are hosts and presenters of various shows on radio, TV and podcasts that are dedicated to analyzing systems, happenings and everything that pertains to these players.

Most of these shows require pundits to offer their expert opinion on various related subjects connected to the industry.

Unbeknownst to many of the naysayers, every pundit has a primary expertise in the business, meaning – a pundit has his/her first calling within the industry before becoming a commentator or analyst on a show. Therefore, there are pundits who are journalists, bloggers, event promoters, artist managers, music producers, event organizers, musicians, actors, directors, movie producers and other personnel with the industry.

These people are called upon to be pundits on various shows by virtue of the fact that, they hold varied positions within the industry and are expected to express such expert opinions on such shows.

Respect, Restraint & Decorum

The passion entertainers exude in the line of their craft is almost the same level of urge pundits exhibit when executing their task. One cannot deny that, sometimes, depending on the subject, the setting and context of discussion – emotions are likely to boil over which could culminate in all sorts of pronouncements that could be injurious to the entertainers or the subject.

In such situations, it takes tact, restraint and emotional intelligence for the pundit to execute the role without any showcase of malice.

Under no circumstance should a pundit harbor hatred and contempt for a celebrity or entertainer to the point where it reflects in your description of that celebrity and their works. As humans, having personal vendettas is normal but such squabbles should be handled on a personal level. When you get on that television or radio platform, you tackle the subject with professionalism, objectivity and fairness.

These entertainers have brands to project and protect – brands that some took years and through toil to build, therefore it is important we accord such personalities the necessary respect and offer them constructive criticism devoid of invective and mudslinging.

As pundits, it is also critical that we attach confidence, preparation, insight and research in the bid to firstly, enhance the discussion of issues and most importantly, elevate the industry – and not necessarily to gain popularity and infamy to our ability to undermine these entertainers.

Appreciation of Roles

Critics of pundits are oblivious of the functions of these analysts and do not appreciate the role they play in the system. Within the ecosystem of the creative industry as it pertains in every space worldwide, there are the systems/structures, proceedings within the industry and the players such as the musicians, actors, and others – and of course, there are the portals, magazines/ newspapers, as well as TV and radio programming that are structured to discuss all the other elements within the ecosystem.

The role of the music/movie producer is appreciated, that of the musician or actor is well appreciated, the role of that TV or radio host is appreciated but the role of the pundits cannot be appreciated?

The fact is; punditry is part of every industry, from politics to sports and the role of pundits are highly recognized and respected elsewhere in the world, yet, in Ghana, some dullards have the conviction that pundits just get up from their beds, move to radio and TV stations and blurt out ‘nonsense’.

Having a better grasp of the industry allows for a better appreciation of every role player within the system. Anybody that does not recognize the role and positioning of pundits within the creative industry simply lacks understanding and must ‘level up’.

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