Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snuki rides again

In an opinion piece posted yesterday (excerpts and link below) Anton Harber addresses the newest twist in the SABC News blacklist saga on which I posted before (July & Oct 2006). The news media has reported in the last few days that John Perlman has resigned from the SABC. This morning I listened to John Perlman as he retorted to an on-air pest caller that he will indeed be leaving on March 2nd. It is a big blow to any hopes that the national broadcaster may be changing its ways in the near future. It must be said that Perlman has up to now refrained from making any statements on why he is resigning. However, the blacklist saga and the SABC's failure to act on it seems to be the obvious cause.

Anton Harber is a former editor of the excellent Mail & Guardian (South Africa) newspaper. He's a media expert of note. Anton currently serves as Professor at Wits University in Johannesburg where he directs the Journalism and Media Studies Programme. I've added his blog to my 'Other South African blogs' menu. I'm confident that his blog should make for very interesting reading, especially if you have an interest in the news media and the South African news media in particular.

Heads are rolling at the SABC … the wrong ones
January 31st, 2007

SABC chief executive Dali Mpofu said in the middle of last year’s SABC “blacklist” saga that “heads would roll” if an independent inquiry found that there had been wrongdoing...What we didn’t expect, however, was that these heads would belong to those who came out best in the inquiry report. Those found in the report to have breached the SABC charter repeatedly...still have their heads firmly attached to their shoulders...

...The most striking thing is that no-one has criticised the report...on the blacklisting affair. Nobody has given any substantial reason to question the evidence...or...conclusions.

They said Perlman had behaved professionally. They said that SABC and its representatives had been dishonest by omission in their response...They confirmed that there were indeed a number of people blocked from the airwaves...They described serious management problems in the SABC newsroom...

Mpofu was energetic in his response...In other words, he did everything except pursue the findings and recommendations of the report. And he did it with drive and passion...

The person who emerges strongest from all of this is the head of news, Dr Snuki Zikalala. He has shown twice now that he is more powerful than the CEO...Zikalala’s critics are leaving the building.

One can only look upon this with an overwhelming sense of sadness. The notion of a national broadcaster as a home for the highest quality, independent, public service journalism is being denigrated...

(Read the full piece here)

* This column first appeared in
Business Day, January 31, 2007

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