Tuesday, May 20, 2014

INSIDER PERSPECTIVE. A fascinating oral history of how New South Africa politics has been allowed to tear the SABC apart.

It makes for utterly fascinating reading: the former SABC reporter and journalist Ed Herbst' ongoing series and insightful portrait articles about the SABC on BizCommunity you simply must read.

Ed Herbst keeps chronicling the various ways in which the struggling South African public broadcaster and its news division has been plundered, hijacked, decimated and destroyed by insider politics the past two decades (and even before) in article after article which could easily become a book of essays.

Take your time and read Ed Herbst' eye-opening insider accounts on BizCommunity, as he gives his perspective on various moments in time while he was working at the SABC, and in which he continues to cast a light - immaculately detailed - on what really happened at the SABC and the public broadcaster's Cape Town news bureau in Sea Point.

Ed Herbst' ongoing fascinating perspective and articles are highly revealing - and he pens these at a time when the beleaguered SABC and SABC News remain in the news on a level of public scrutiny as it's never been before.

Astounding articles like "A Tale of Three Floods", or "A Slice for the elite: Cape Town's 2005 media war" and several others are articles that make for requisite reading for everyone who's truly interested in the South African public broadcaster and what's really happened to this "Ozymandias" (Ed Herbst' incredibly clever and apt descriptor in one of his articles) media behemoth over the past 20 years.

Ed Herbst' tableaux of behind-the-scenes SABC news coverage mangling and head-shaking references to political interference is stunning reading.

Just like Jill Abramson, the editor of The New York Times who was fired last week and is now talking about why (the prize-winning Ed Herbst was never fired by the way), when a credible journalist decides to speak out about media institutions where they've worked and which holds enormous public influence, it is in the public's interest to listen.

With the gift of time as well as with insider knowledge and perspective, Ed Herbst is able to pull together facts and notes which originally seemed somewhat unrelated and that people didn't see or realised at the time.

The series of self-contained articles build and provide a much more complete portrait of how the SABC's news room operated and covered and twisted a story or news reporting that was in the national interest - or even more importantly, didn't cover it at all - just like the SABC keeps doing today.

Too few watches the watchers. Ed Herbst does, and his BizCommunity series of articles are must-read perspectives for academia interested in broadcasting in South Africa, as well as for ordinary South African citizens concerned about politics and public broadcasting in this country.