ANN7: When reality TV crosses into the newsroom

2013-09-01 06:00

ANN7 will have the best ratings of any local news channel for the past two weeks, but not for many weeks after.

Everyone is talking about them, and that’s great for ratings – even if they’re laughing. Nobody is talking about the professional, seamless, job Peter Ndoro does on the 24-hour SABC news channel or how great Iman Rapetti is as a news anchor. Nobody cares about them.

When people on the street talk about ANN7, they call it the “Gupta Channel” or “that news show where none of the presenters seem to know what they’re doing”. Nobody has been very sympathetic, optimistic or complimentary.

You don’t have to be, and I don’t want you to feel bad: schadenfreude is partly to blame for the thrill that ANN7 provides – because most people are horrible, and take pleasure in the problems others encounter – if only because they don’t have to encounter them themselves.

Every time a newsreader slips up with a name, the control room goes on air, or some poor bewildered young girl stares doe eyed at the camera hoping for someone to save her from an autocue that has rolled past. We laugh mockingly, somehow imagining that we could do a better job.

I remember listening to radio when I was a child. I waited for those occasions when the “announcers” – as they called themselves, screwed something up – dropped a tape, scratched a record, left a microphone on or broke down on air.

It hardly ever happened, but when it did I loved it. It was so real. In some ways, those unpolished disasters made radio accessible, and radio wasn’t as real then as it is now. It’s worth noting that eventually radio became so real that it changed all the other media and even gave birth to reality TV.

TV news people are always so smooth – they’re dressed up, made up, with perfect hair and perfect teeth. They can pronounce difficult Russian names, seem to know all about what’s going on in the world and make us feel that nothing could be so dramatic or disastrous that they wouldn’t be there to tell us about it every night at the appointed time.

They’re a part of our lives and we end up having a relationship with the best ones.

ANN7 is to be commended for giving a break to the young guys and girls who want to be broadcasters – but some of them don’t care about broadcasting, knowing and communicating the news to us or forming a relationship with their audience.

Some just want to be on TV, like a whole bunch of the Idols contestants I get to see year in, and year out.

Broadcasting is tough. You have to work hard at it. If you’re lucky and you don’t give up, you might be good after about ten years.

Before you get to 10 years, other people have to support, coach and believe in you enough not to fire you.

There are millions of people who sit at home watching TV, or listening to radio who say to themselves smugly: “Oh, I could do that!” The truth is that you couldn’t.

The best people are really talented, driven and need experience. Just because they do their jobs so publicly doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

You’re not an expert on TV or radio just because you listen to it or watch it. Most people couldn’t do what the best in the business do with such ease that it looks simple. Like the duck floating on the surface of a pond – all the hard work is going on below the surface.

ANN7 has shown just how tough a real broadcast is to pull off. We may laugh, but they’re ordinary real people, and this is what happens when reality TV crosses into the newsroom.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.