Friday, April 24, 2015
HLAUDI DRAMA: The biased SABC News coverage of the court ordering Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended, compared to eNCA and ANN7.
Media students, journalism pundits, public broadcasters experts, and anyone interested in media will enjoy this self-revealing and very telling exercise in the propaganda machine the SABC's news division has become insofar as reporting on its own management and executive troubles are concerned.
The SABC is supposed to be objective, fair and unbiased in its news reporting. Watch, compare and decide for yourself who is spinning the news and who is blatantly giving TV viewers a distorted view of a news event that happened.
First take a look at how the SABC as South Africa's public broadcaster put a spin on the Western Cape High Court judgement that its chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng must be suspended immediately on Thursday 24 April.
This is the news package the SABC carried on SABC News (DStv 404) as well as across SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 with the same strange angle, framing it as "Hlaudi Motsoeneng has successfully launched an appeal against this morning's Cape High Court appeal ruling."
Note the inclusion of the words: "Adding to the DA's legal woes..." It's actually Hlaudi Motsoeneng who is mired in legal woes and who is being taken to court.
Note how the SABC lawyer is saying the judgment is putting the SABC in crisis. The reality is actually that its the SABC refusing to act on the Public Protector's report on Hlaudi Motsoeneng and to suspend him which has been putting the SABC into a crisis.
Note how the SABC News story on Hlaudi Motsoeneng flat-out ignores and doesn't have a single word or why the court case exists, why and what Hlaudi Motsoeneng is appealing, why Hlaudi Motsoeneng was taken to court.
The SABC News insert makes not a single mention of the implications, there's not a single source or opposing view who is not part of the SABC, and not a single talking head in the piece not linked to Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Somebody watching this with no prior knowledge of what the story is about, will not have any real sense of the real news watching this badly done and blatantly slanted SABC News insert.
Now look at how eNCA (DStv 403) covered the court ordered suspension of Hlaudi Motsoeneng - the second time the court ordered the SABC to suspend Hlaudi Motsoeneng immediately.
It's a much more "real", balanced, "truthful", objective, longer and more comprehensive.
The eNCA story gives background, history, perspective. It explains what is really going on. It also gives the other side. eNCA also had a guest in studio from an independent public broadcasting pressure group to weigh in.
ANN7 (DStv 405) did a great, balanced story about Hlaudi Motsoeneng's latest court suspension order, just like eNCA (DStv 403), with tons of actual, factual background and perspective.
A viewer who've never heard of the drama, the court case or the issues and who had no prior knowledge of what is going on, would be completely clued in with a well-structured, great story which almost borders on the academic - not that that's a bad thing at all.
Like eNCA, the ANN7 story says why there is a court case in the first place - unlike SABC News which blatantly censors and is shying away from giving viewers actual background and facts on the case.
The ANN7 story could have been a bit more fair by including an opposing viewpoint or guest in the story, but all in all a very good story.
End tally: eNCA best with multiple guests from various sides shedding light on the issue. then ANN7.
SABC News is on the whole other side of the spectrum with deplorably bad "journalism" if it can even be called that. Slanted "propaganda" as far as this specific issue is concerned is probably a better term. Also keep in mind that it directly affects, and involves the SABC, its executives and management.
It's probably too much to ask or expect from the SABC to do an unbiased story; but then again the SABC is the public broadcaster, and should be impartial and unbiased in its news reporting. This story is an example of how it's not.