SABC Mugging: The Prevalence of Percentage Based Reporting

2015-03-11 14:03

This morning I awoke to a myriad of statuses depicting a SABC contributing editor, Vuyo Mvoko being mugged at gunpoint in while the cameras were rolling. Amongst the voluminous commentary (mostly in the realm of shock and disgust) at the robbers’ brazen attitude while being filmed on live television. As most will rightly say, this is deplorable at best, since it follows a spate of robberies in recent months, where gunpoint attacks and invasions have been aired on news networks, from the repositories of CCTV footage across the country. The remarks by the attackers to "shoot that dog" only depict the sad state of how human life is viewed on the streets of South Africa, only serving to entrench negative imagery about our country.

I also wondered whether this brazen attack on the contributing producer might not have been some type of universal correction for the laughable policy of SABC’s 60/40% good over bad news reporting. As per the Zuma standard, and aptly adopted by dubious SABC Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the "Good story to tell" is shaken to its core when employees of the state owned broadcaster are attacked by the very people of the republic, it tries to broadcast to. Besides his poorly presented demeanuor and pronunciation, his presence on the New Age breakfast show last month was particularly cringe-worthy, especially considering his blind siding with the narrative of The Presidency. commentators have used this event as a clear indication as to the 'symbiotic relationship' which permeates the state and certain media houses

Regarding Mvoko, I personally wouldn't wish such an event on anyone, but I feel that the poorly constructed veil by the SABC and communications office has to be drawn down, to include a more sober picture of South Africa, both morally and materialistically. I won’t be the first to say that there are only bad stories, laden with depression and hopelessness to tell, but the truth is that we are a nation which stands in the face of numerous challenges. It’s no secret that poverty, unemployment and crime are co-related, and that we should be having more meaningful debates it, but it becomes hard to do so when the primary broadcaster for most South Africans becomes inept at depicting the situation on the ground so as to alert and engender meaningful action from a blinded audience. As a vital oxygen of democracy, the SABC as the organ of communication has become engrossed in the securocrat agenda, by being handcuffed and subservient to the controlled and filtered apparatus of state owned media and communications branches, which are intent on using it as a spin engine. This comes after the much heated debate over signal blocking in Parliament a few weeks ago during the State of the Nation Address, where brutal policing confirmed the dormant fears of spectators/commentators. The recent struggle to find Ellen Tshabalala's replacement can only hint at the reluctance of persons (qualified or unqualified) to take up the head post of an increasingly pressured and vulnerable organization shaky in both its foundation and helms.

If anything, the incident involving Vuyo Mvoko should be used as a springboard to talk about and address crime beyond the reactionary calls for arrests, as my friend and colleague Lukhona Mnguni has stated on his Facebook wall. Given the allegiance of executives at the SABC to the halls of power in the presidency however, the opportune moment for a change in the broadcaster’s communicative policy was lost before it was even sprung.

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