Monday 6 August 2007

From the Archives

What's On Air—What ‘Breaking News’?

Itayi Viriri
IT was a veritable comedy of errors that viewers witnessed when DRC leader, Laurent Kabila was shot dead, presumably on a late Tuesday afternoon, but had Zimbabwean government officials and the ZBC literally falling over each other in the ensuing days, trying to convince all and sundry that Kabila was still alive and had been flown to Harare where doctors were battling to save his life.

The already cynical viewers (and they had every right to be cynical) were fed with inconclusive statements emanating from the government’s information and publicity depart- ment. Fair enough, but in the same bulletin, we have the same department postulating that the Zimbabwean officials were waiting for Congolese officials to inform them of Kabila’s status. Goodness me, why, if they had confirmed that the guy was indeed in Zimbabwe.

Of course, later, it was explained that the cover up was because of some diplomatic mumbo jumbo.

Surely one does not need to be one of Prof Moyo’s rocket scientists to realise that this was a nicely bungled cover up of news and ZBC happily complied.
Still on the same farce, I received a number of letters from viewers who did not take too kindly to being taken for chumps.

Said one irate viewer from Bulawayo: “We had Grace (Tsvakanyi) asking stupid questions like, ‘In the event that President Kabila dies what will Zimbabwe do’. By the time that Grace was trying to fool us about Kabila, the man was long dead. ZBC ought to be charged for deliberately distorting information.”

It was also farcical to have ZBC flashing ‘Breaking News’ during a movie. Lo and behold, we had Congolese officials on CNN (of course) finally ‘informing’ us of their leader’s demise. Breaking News my foot!

That CNN clip was several hours stale, but was still breaking news to ZBC. I wonder how CNN would take it if they got wind of how their ‘Breaking News’ was being peddled by ZBC.

I am sure most of you have seen the municipal security guard turned farm snatcher, who is also adept at taking pot shots at neighbours—Joseph Chinoti- mba—prancing about excitedly on TV donning his trademark straw/grass hat, every now and then.

If that hat could speak it would probably regale us with a long story or two about its master’s shenanigans on the commercial farms and in rustic settings.
I suppose the treasured hat has a place of honour at Chinotimba’s Marlborough hideout, the same way the crown jewels are safely under lock and key in the Tower of London.

As I mentioned last week, more often than not, you do get some comic relief on TV considering the large number of weird characters that are given prominence on news bulletins and proceed to say some of the most incomprehensible things imaginable.

During the “Siege of the Daily News” last week, Judesi, oops, Judith Makwanya interviewed Chenjerai Hunzvi on blah blah this and blah blah that.

Anyway, he managed during the course of the rather rabid interview to coin a new phrase. He was waxing lyrical and literally frothing at the mouth about being ‘African Panists’.

Now, I have never heard of that term. Judging by what he was warbling about, I am certain the man meant to say Pan Africanists, but I stand to be corrected. Then again, it maybe the right term to describe his activities over the last few years.

Perhaps the man should not talk so rapidly in English and he could do it without spewing so much venom.

It seems the folks at ZBC were not at all amused that one of their own had been accused of inciting a rented overzealous demonstrating mob to storm the Daily News offices.

So they had Happison Muchechetere reading from some prepared statement to show the corporation’s immense displeasure. He, at the same time, tried to look mean and very displeased by the whole issue, but was not really convincing.

For good measure, Muchechetere sulkingly signed off by mimicking some other prominent chap’s ‘Daily Lies’ monicker.

It would have been more effective if ‘our defenceless reporter’ Judith Makwanya had done her own talking and explaining. Instead, she was caught on camera (for the newshour bulletin) as a distraught and wronged reporter who had been called names and accused of being a modern day Judas Iscariot. Not too convincing either.

It does look as if ZBC is on the offensive these days. Only a few days prior to the Muchechetere performance, the ZBC director- general had denied MISA’s Tim Nyahunzvi’s assertion that ZBC and Zimpapers had been stopped from joined the Media Complaints Council.

Maybe the ZBC should introduce a new programme whereby they deny anything that can be denied. It could attract a high viewership and perhaps even surpass local drama in popularity. I am sure there is always a lot for them to deny nowadays.
Last Sunday, Reuben Barwe had one of those monotonous Q&A sessions and this time around, he had Emmerson Mnanga-gwa explaining his dual role as Speaker of the House and a top Zanu PF politburo member.

Barwe, in his customary drawl, at one point asked: “What is this animal...” (He paused, during which the honourable speaker must have been slightly taken aback wondering why Barwe was suddenly calling him names).

However, at last Barwe managed to finish off “...impartiality”.

By the way, have you ever noticed how the newshour anchors assertively remind you, the viewer, that “this is newshour” as if to assure you they are still there, still reading the news.

I have not written much about radio, but in the last week, I received a number of interesting comments from readers who are ardent listeners.

Most of them felt Radio 1 had vastly improved over the past few months. They felt the station now catered to a wide cross section of society and many are now tuning into the station in large numbers, which had previously been taken to be a ‘boring station for oldies’.

Radio 3, on the other hand, was criticised for its DJ’s monotonous and continuous play of particular tracks. There are instances whereby a particular song is played by say, four or five DJs, on any given day.

The other gripe concerns Radio 3’s Live at Five sports programme hosted by Mark Pozzo and Simon Parkinson on weekdays (Recently, there was an article elsewhere, which extensively touched on the programme).

All those who sent their comments felt the programme had become a long bore and seemed to have lost focus. Generally, it was felt Live at Five could do with more local content instead of relying on ‘Parky’ to inform us on the sporting goings-on, south of the Limpopo.

Another complaint that came through to me had to do with disc jockeys who promised to read to their listeners, that particular day’s newspaper headlines.
Apparently this Radio 3 DJ, on Sunday mornings, tells you he is going to read the headlines from the Sunday papers, but ends up giving you Sunday Mail headlines, only.

Maybe the folks at Herald House pay for that service, but if not, there should be no reason why the guy does not read this paper’s headlines or any other paper other than the one he reads every Sunday morning.

I thought as a way of signing off this column every week, we could have you, the readers/viewers, come up with someone who you feel was a chump on national television during the week.

You could send me the circumstances as to how these people came to say or do something incredulously stupid or bizarre.

We are never short of such characters on TV, so it should be happy hunting for all you viewers out there.

I already look forward to our first TV Chump of the Week.

No comments: