Thursday, May 29, 2014

The worst person in all of prime time television news on South African television is ... Arabile Gumede on NewsNight on eNCA.

The worst person in all of prime time television news on South Africa television is Arabile Gumede on eNCA (DStv 403), the business news anchor during NewsNight - if eNCA values its news product he should be removed and shifted out immediately.

Arabile Gumede's under par presenting was immediately self-evident but TV with Thinus decided to wait a few months to be fair, and to not judge based on what might just have been one or two unfortunately bad broadcasts.

Sadly its now clear that his presenting and delivery skills will not, and did not, improve and that Arabile Gumede is not ready or qualified for prime time news - supposedly an earned and prestige position.

Having looked objectively at countless hours of eNCA, SABC News, ANN7 as well as all the terrestrial TV news broadcasts on the SABC and during prime time, Arabile Gumede tops the list of the worst person anchoring news coverage on South African television.

(Ironically Francis Herd who Arabile Gumede replaced and who jumped ship to SABC News, has managed to superbly lift the business news coverage on television during prime time on that TV news channel.

With incisive questions and interviews, and clever inserts and topics Francis Herd has shown so far this year on SABC News that sometimes it actually is the anchor who is also the the journalist and who is responsible for how good or bad the content of a segment in a news bulletin is.)

Pull basically any Arabile Gumede recording from the eNCA archives and you'll see how he weakens the front row of eNCA prime time presenters. He simply doesn't fit alongside brilliant prime time workhorses like your Jeremy Maggs, Iman Rapetti, Derek van Dam and James Lennox.

Arabile Gumede's favourite word apparently is "rather"- as in used when he makes mistakes. And because he often makes mistakes, eNCA prime time viewers lather in the "rather" and have for months.

Basically not a single broadcast goes by without Arabile Gumede not making some form of reading mistake on television - usually multiple mistakes.

Surely there can't be script problems every night? Surely the autocue isn't acting up every night? It leads to the conclusion that it is the person who is the problem.

Nobody else across competitor pay-TV news channels ANN7 or SABC News come across as bad anchoring as Arabile Gumede who just seems not quite right and "not quite there" in terms of solid business news presenting.

He often comes across as unsure of himself. He seems nervous. And Arabile Gumede mostly reads like a bad and untrained first year campus radio station news reader.

His inappropriate, and constant, faux sport coverage like double usage hand movements are completely wrong, too much, never-ending, off putting and perplexing. Has nobody told him? Is nobody telling him what to change?

Arabile Gumede's wide and faux extroverted arm and hand movements come across as superficially fake as a Mango airlines' air steward taking passengers through the obligatory emergency exits announcement.

It's bad that Arabile Gumede is on-air during prime time. It's worse that eNCA is making as if there's nothing wrong with him and keeping him in the position.

It is bad that eNCA either doesn't want to replace him, or that this is what eNCA considers to be the best, or its best person, to anchor business news during prime time.

Television and TV news is a visual and an auditory medium. Viewers - even channel loyal ones - will "momentarily" tune to another channel (and sometimes forget to come back) at the slightest whiff of any form of badness, unprofessionalism or irritability factors.

I'm sorry to say that Arabile Gumede tops the list of people in prime time, doing TV news in South Africa, who make me want to flip to another channel.

Unfortunately as a TV critic, I often have to keep watching. Just like the captive audience inside a Mango flight, unable to escape the often-awful emergency exit row in-flight demonstration.