Thursday, September 10, 2015

SABC and SABC News largely ignores Homo naledi discovery; no live coverage while eNCA and ANN7 go with wall-to-wall live broadcast.

While both eNCA (DStv 403) and ANN7 (DStv 405) are covering the announcement, news and speech by Cyril Ramaphosa live on Thursday morning about the discovery of Homo naledi, the SABC largely ignored it with basically little or no coverage or live coverage on SABC News (DStv 404).

Ironically SABC News kept playing promos saying "SABC News - Africa's news leader" - but the channel and its coverage was nowhere while global attention was focused on South Africa as one of the richest collections of early-human fossils ever found were hauled out of an African cave and showcased to the media.

Both eNCA and ANN7 as 24-hour TV news channels instantly and constantly had experts on hand, interviewed analysts and had anchors and reporters on the scene and at the press conference at Maropeng known as the Cradle of Mankind.

The SABC had ... none - no experts and no live coverage as both channels around it on DStv had wall-to-wall coverage of the dramatic and very newsworthy discovery.

"It is historic for South Africa," said ANN7.

"It's a major discovery," said eNCA.

At the exact same time, SABC News with anchor Elvin Presslin had nothing. While SABC News ironically kept playing promos in-between taped news inserts of other news, saying "When news breaks, we've got you covered".

The absence of Homo naledi coverage or any live coverage of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's speech on SABC News and the massive announcement was a shocking and visceral lapse to South African viewers of how dramatically the SABC failed on Thursday morning to cover a major event of national importance and international importance happening in South Africa.

Even by 12:00 on Thursday SABC News only had 18 seconds of Homo naledi news as a headline story read from the studio, followed by a very brief 2 minute story with Elvin Presslin just reading the prompter, before moving on to other news.

Meanwhile eNCA and ANN7 at 12:00 on Thursday continued with wall-to-wall live coverage and multiple live interviews, on location, with Joanne Joseph for eNCA and Peter van Onselen at ANN7 both reporting live from Maropeng.

The SABC left viewers flabbergasted and media rivals wondering about why the SABC's head of news Jimi Matthews decided not to devote more SABC News resources and coverage to the story.

SABC reporter Njanji Chauke was actually there but barely seen. He did report live eventually at 13:04 for a precious few minutes on SABC News from inside the by then empty auditorium - and with no interviews with any experts or analysts- while eNCA and ANN7 kept doing much longer live coverage and interviewing experts on location.

On CNN International (DStv 401) correspondent David McKenzie filed a brilliant story with great visuals and interviews - longer, better and more comprehensive than anything the SABC did.

South Africa's Debora Patta likewise did an incredible story for America's CBS Evening News, seen in South Africa on Sky News (DStv 402) with on location interviews and wonderful footage.

NBC's story, using visuals from National Geographic, and reported by Hallie Jackson for NBC Nightly News, seen on CNBC Africa (DStv 410), focused on the 6 cave diving women scientists who made did the painstaking excavation.

The SABC and SABC News showed a shocking lack of any rolling, in-depth Homo naledi coverage, while eNCA and ANN7 both brimmed for hours with experts, scientists, officials, archeologists and even the cave adventurers who discovered the bones originally and alerted the authorities, all being interviewed.

The Homo naledi lack of coverage was a real-time, on-air embarrassment of the highest degree for the SABC, the SABC News division and its SABC News channel seen across Africa.

The SABC's controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng keeps saying that the SABC will and must be telling "good news stories".

Yet the South African public broadcaster's news division completely dropped the ball with no live coverage and very little TV news coverage on Thursday of possibly the biggest "good news" story coming out of Africa and South Africa in 2015 and which instantly made world wide news from CNN to The New York Times.

Here was a legitimate and important good news story with great significance to tell and cover live, with incisive reporting, yet the SABC did nothing - while scientists, archeologists, the deputy president and several other experts were on hand and ready to talk about the hugely important and interesting discovery in South Africa.

Carte Blanche on M-Net will cover the huge news on Sunday evening at 19:00 on M-Net (DStv 101), with Joy Summers producing and with Derek Watts as presenter. Carte Blanche will report on the extraordinary scientific discovery of the new species of human and tell the remarkable tale of the two extreme cavers' discovery of Homo naledi.