Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why did eNCA allow its reporter Mbali Langa to go on a free boat cruise on the MSC Sinfonia to Mozambique for what isn't a real news story (while she missed her flight)?

In a very strange turn of events that seems to be compromising eNCA's (DStv 403) editorial integrity, eNCA allowed its reporter Mbali Langa to go on a free boat cruise on the MSC Sinfonia to the Portuguese islands in Mozambique for something that isn't even news or a real story - and to make it worse, to then report on it as if it's legitimate news.

Besides "reporting" this non-news on eNCA, Mbali Langa had the "audacity" to report and admit that she actually missed her booked free flight to Durban (that she didn't pay for in the first place), and then had to race through Durban traffic to board the cruise ship in time.

What real news reporter will ever admit to missing a flight? Missing a flight is the same as not handing in your homework in school on time - it reflects very badly on the person and a brand.

If you're so unprofessional as to not be able to be on time for a flight as a journalist, how do you deal with the strict deadlines of a deadline-driven news industry?

Furthermore, going on such a free "holiday" - a cruise ship no less - and then reporting it as news, puts eMedia Investment's eNCA and Mbali Langa in the seriously compromised position of a conflict of interest.

Is Mbali Langa's fawning coverage of her "epic cruise" to "the beautiful Portuguese island" free PR coverage in exchange for the free non-news worthy cruise trip?

And what does Mbali Langa's "trip to the most popular cruise destination in southern Africa on the MSC Sinfonia" that runs more like infomercial advertorial than legitimate news coverage, mean for eNCA's credibility?

Mbali Langa's shocking shilling for the MSC cruise company makes you wonder who she works for: eNCA or as a publicist and marketer for MSC.

As a eNCA reporter, she goes on to describes the Portuguese Island on her all expenses paid free getaway from a PR agency as "an uninhabited nature reserve, with pristine beaches, dense vegetation, pleasant lagoons and small patches of mangrove".

"MSC has succeeded in creating a holiday package for families to take a much-needed getaway in comfort and five-star style at a ridiculously affordable amount," "reports Mbali Langa.

This "reporting" dents whatever credibility Mbali Langa has as a eNCA reporter, and it dents eNCA's image as a news platform.

The eNCA story actually amounts more to sponsored content, although it's dished up as an editorial story.

It is also eNCA - where the journalism professor Anton Harber is now the editor-in-chief - that just over a week ago committed blatant plagiarism by taking a sugar graphic without giving any credit to News24's Graphics24 department.

I asked eNCA if it can please say why Mbali Langa was sent on this boat cruise and what eNCA sees as the news value of the story editorially.

I asked eNCA how it feels about reporters missing flights and if this is something eNCA usually disclose?

I also asked what eNCA's policy is regarding reporters going on free holiday cruises and if eNCA feels that this compromises editorial integrity and credibility in any way or create a conflict of interest or not.

eNCA says that eNCA reporters "are allowed, under certain circumstances, to go on paid-for trips and company policy dictates that this information is declared in the piece".

"This was done," says eNCA.

eNCA says Mbali Langa's story was unpublished from eNCA's website on Monday because of concerns raised.

eNCA says Mbali Langa's story "is being reworked to fit our editorial guidelines".

"The way in which the reporter packaged her lifestyle piece is now part of an internal process".

eNCA didn't say how it feels about its reporters missing flights and one going as far as actually publicising it.