It’s exotic, mysterious and far-flung. You should be watchful of the tsetse fly and, apparently, Livingstone and Stanley have been there and actually seen it.
Yes, perhaps you’ve heard of this place called Africa.
With three South African 24-hour TV news channels on DStv, the irony of the African story is that local viewers are getting less – not more – news stories and on-air TV news coverage from here. Watch a while and you’ll notice.
It’s shocking and shameful that foreign TV news channels – from CNN International (DStv 401) and Sky News (DStv 402), to CCTV News (DStv 409) and even American TV networks like CBS – are doing more, better and longer stories about and in Africa, and a better job than eNCA (DStv 403), SABC News (DStv 404) and ANN7 (DStv 405).
Sounds impossible and ridiculous, right? A preposterous idea you want to instantly dismiss. But like Meryl Streep’s character in Out of Africa who had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills, you need to look closer to get the full view.
I watched news channels for a week and foreign broadcasters are doing a better job covering Africa than us – with more relevant stories, more regularly, in a quick turnaround time, spanning more on-air minutes with more incisive, hard-hitting reporting across the continent.
Meanwhile, South African TV news media’s African news coverage is predominantly prepackaged, short, international, wire news stories, dutifully packaged with’ with a South African-accented voice-over from a local reporter in a sound booth.
South Africa’s Debora Patta reporting for CBS’s news bulletin (which can be seen nightly on Sky News) as their African correspondent was just nominated for a news Emmy.
In the past year, she’s done a stellar job filing incredibly visual, informative stories, crisscrossing the length and breadth of Africa.
She’s racked up scoops and exclusives, and gets first access to even South African newsmakers.
Sky News’ brilliant African correspondent, Alex Crawford, who famously said she’s “scarred by seeing too much death”, is a relentless TV news juggernaut across Africa, reporting visually daring, jaw-dropping and mesmerising stories from across Africa.
CNN International’s Diana Magnay, former eNCA staffer Robyn Kriel and David McKenzie, who’s back covering Africa, have been running circles around our local TV news channels with their stories this year (look online for Magnay’s Burundi refugee stories).
Even China’s CCTV News channel, with its daily Africa Live hourlong show, is bringing more news and original reporting from Africa to viewers in South Africa than we do.
These channels all have dedicated reporters going places – across Africa – to unearth, and show and tell, important African stories in interesting ways that matter to you.
How much of an African story with an African perspective are SABC News, eNCA and ANN7 bringing their viewers compared with what foreign news outlets are doing?
eNCA downsized its African news operation, dumped Africa Edition and current-affairs magazine show Africa 360, and ANN7’s Africa Tonight is mostly a copy-and-paste wire service hack job.
Even SABC News, pro-government with its “70% good news” policy, should hang its head in shame when just one Nigerian TV news channel managed to send more accredited reporters to cover this year’s state of the nation address by President Jacob Zuma in Cape Town than the SABC did.
Guess how many of their own TV reporters eNCA, ANN7 and SABC News had on the ground in Nigeria during that country’s recent general election?
It’s fine to pay lip service to covering Africa. But more than a century ago, even explorer Henry Stanley got it: to really see the news, you need to actually go and be there