What Is A Pundit or Punditry?

By Maeve Maddox

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A reader writes:

So, there I was, reading The Other McCain (Robert McCain): “the conservative movement in general tends to esteem punditry over reporting”

What is the difference between punditry and reporting?

The word pundit entered English in 1672 with the meaning “learned Hindu,” from a Hindi word for “a learned man” or “teacher.” Pundit took on the broader meaning of “expert” in the 19th century.  Now  it seems to mean any self-proclaimed authority with something to say about the news. 

Reporting is supposed to be an objective gathering and presentation of the facts. The reader or the listener is presumed to possess the intelligence needed to process the information and arrive at his/her own conclusions.

“Punditry” is ideological opinion masquerading as objective analysis of the news. Punditry assumes that the average reader or listener can’t be trusted to draw the “right” conclusions and must be guided by “pundits.” 

The fact that a question can arise regarding the difference between “reporting” and “punditry” is evidence of how much the treatment of news has changed since the days in which straight news reporting and editorial opinion were kept strictly separate.

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5 Responses to “What Is A Pundit or Punditry?”

  • Ron

    For today’s changing world, you highlighted a needed distinction.

  • Brad K.


    Does that mean that “pun” might have been a gem of wisdom, instead of today’s cruel twist of words for entertainment’s sake (or maybe “prank” is more apt.. )?

  • K. Malam

    Interesting to read about this. Just a small addition: the very origin of this word, as far as I know, would be the Sanskrit noun ‘panditaH’ –> learned person.

    I suppose the way speakers of this language used to pronounce the first ‘a’ sounded like the ‘u’ of the form that ended up being used in English.

  • Del hoover

    I certainly agree that we need to distiguish between news and opinion but why did we have to corrupt the meaning of a word to describe it?

  • anup

    Arjun Pandit

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