Saturday, June 23, 2012

Christiane Amanpour in Cairo talking to Aung San Suu Kyi in Oslo - and the true brilliance of global 24 hour news.

Sadly it doesn't happen often - it doesn't even happen 24 hours of the day - but when global television news lives up to the best of what it should and can be, and makes full use of its true reach such as CNN International (DStv 401) showed last night with Christiane Amanpour, the result is nothing short of spectacular, impactful, amazing and inspiring.

In Amanpour Friday night on CNN International, South African TV viewers and viewers around the world, saw the always-brilliant Christiane Amanpour - uniquely the undisputed "news Oprah" of the world with all her high profile exclusive interview "gets" - interviewing Aung San Suu Kyi.

Why amazing? First off, Christiane Amanpour did the interview by satellite from Cairo, Egypt. Christiane Amanpour took her New York based weekday show Amanpour to Cairo and did the show from there the past few days covering the aftermath of the Egyptian elections.

Then Christiane Amanpour interviewed Aung San Suu Kyi live who's based in Oslo, Norway after she visited Britain earlier this week.

How incredibly rare and actually extraordinary a moment to be watching in one part of the world - wherever the viewer is based - the world's best television news journalist based in another part of the world, doing an insightful, revealing and great interview with a high profile international news maker based in yet another part of the world.

Despite the explosion of global 24 hour TV news channels and the plethora of choices, something like Christiane Amanpour, based out-of-studio in a foreign location, interviewing someone live for longer than the 2 minute satellite link-up limit also based out-of-studio in also a foreign location simply does not happen as often as one would think.

It shows what is truly possible (yet very expensive and time-consuming to book and execute) for global television news and what is possible for this medium and this genre and this news platform when it meets its highest form of functionality.

If you think for a minute of what it takes to link Cairo with Oslo live, then broadcast it to the world, after getting the interviewee to agree for a sit-down, and having surely had very little time to try and book the guest, its truly amazing what's possible.

Kudos to CNN International and Christiane Amanpour specifically for remaining true to a ethos of real news values; for pushing for relevancy and immediacy in an environment and an era where most of what is real news has largely fallen by the wayside, and for using the bit of satellite link time available and utilising it for the best substantive content that the medium - and the production team - can deliver.