Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BREAKING. Is Lulama Mokhobo out as group CEO at the SABC? The SABC quiet after sources say she's gone.

Lulama Mokhobo is apparently out as group CEO at the SABC, two separate sources told TV with Thinus early on Monday morning - with one source who told me over the phone that Lulama Mokhobo left yesterday.

It's the story I've been working since this morning, but as yet there's no official answer from the SABC as if to whether this is indeed the case.

The SABC has not been able to immediately confirm when I asked them on Wednesday morning whether Lulama Mokhobo had indeed left or resigned from the South African public broadcaster.

The SABC's spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago's cellphone was off since he was flying back to Johannesburg from Cape Town and couldn't return voicemail left.

I called again later on Wednesday and over the phone Kaizer Kganyago to me he just landed and that he wasn't aware that Lulama Mokhobo had resigned or that she is leaving the SABC. He said that he wasn't knowledgeable as to whether she has resigned.

Kaizer Kganyago told me Lulama Mokhobo didn't tell him anything when he saw her earlier this week.

Another SABC spokesperson also said she wasn't aware of news such as Lulama Mokhobo's resignation, and appropriately asked for more time to investigate the matter, when I quickly phoned this morning.

I also made an official written media enquiry to the SABC on Wednesday morning and remade it on Wednesday afternoon. The SABC's Kaizer Kganyago responded in a written reply that the SABC is not aware of a resignation by Lulama Makhobo.

Several other well-connected SABC insiders who I also called today and spoke to during the course of Wednesday, also said they knew nothing about Lulama Mokhobo leaving.

However I did then call yet another insider at the SABC who said workers are talking and that they were told she apparently "left yesterday". I have to stress that this cannot be confirmed at this point.

Also, another SABC insider told me early this morning that "Lulama Mokhobo is gone".

I have refrained from publishing a story and have been working the phones and sources both inside the SABC and out, for hours today since early this morning but have not published anything.

I decided to wait for either solid confirmation from a real solid source - or then publish nothing if it turned out to be just a rumour.

A lot of rumours float around in South Africa's TV biz on a daily basis - they don't all get reported. As a journalist your job and your responsibility - and one which I take very seriously - is to report the news. And as accurately as possible.

I follow up as many tips and rumours as I can on a daily basis and several turn out to be false - although I do the legwork of trying to verify information anyway, should something turn out to be true and a story.

So why am I now writing what I heard through the grapevine today about Lulama Mokhobo?

Because now DRUM magazine, working off of only a Tweet (what has the world come to?) and no real original source or even a second source, saying Lulama Mokhobo has resigned in a story written by Refiloe Lepere. 

(Real journalist only write stories when you have two independent of each sources who can back up the same story, especially when its impactful, big news.)

Refiloe Lepere uses as sole, unconfirmed source, the 140 characters from an SABC trade union boss, Hannes du Buisson and nothing more - who could have heard the news or the rumour from another secondary place. Who is to say it is true?

(And it could be, but its embarrassingly bad journalism to write it before being fully sure.)

Fin24 then picked up the DRUM story for their own story, using only DRUM - which is a tabloid publication - as its reference.

Fin24 then made it worse by quoting from a very old story from the trade publication Screen Africa when Lulama Mokhobo resigned back in 2010 from the SABC as head of public broadcast services, and inserted lifted material from that 3 years old story into its new story

Fin24 then says Screen Africa is saying Lulama Mokhobo has resigned - without actually doing real journalism like looking at the date. Fin24 did so before publishing, it would have seen that its not relevant because it's from her resignation from the SABC years ago).

Fin24 then made themselves look even more embarrassingly bad by now backtracking after publishing and altered and deleted the Screen Africa reference and information it took from there for its own story. Fin24 failed to indicate that its published story has been changed and how after publishing.

Fin24 even deleted some of the "facts" it took from the DRUM and Screen Africa quoting stories ... and altered the same story for a 3rd time late on Wednesday - a 3rd new headline with third copy rewriting inside the same story with zero indication of revisionist rewriting which is taking place inside the same article Fin24 rushed to publish.

Anyone who've watched the second season of The Newsroom can appreciate the insanity of badly done journalism in the mad quest to be first, without properly checking the news and having and working from real credible sources.

DRUM and Fin24 will now probably both hope as publications that a "fact" reported will hopefully become a fact proven true over the next day or so - just like The Newsroom.

Because there's that thing called credibility in journalism which is hard to come by - and so quick to trash through sloppy and low journalistic standards like rather waiting to get it right, than to just publish and rehash and rehash it afterwards to make it more correct.

Can we get some real journalism covering the TV industry in South Africa? Can we get and check facts and only report those?

Cringe, cringe, cringe, everywhere.