ZTV: How Not To Broadcast (23-11-06)

By Josiah Bob Taundi
ZBH is moving into people's homes demanding licences, but they have made such a mess of the news and programming on television that it is no longer worth watching let alone paying a licence for. Truly there is a need for the liberalisation of the airwaves to end ZTV's monopol

y. Zimbabweans have suffered enough!
On the day ZTV announced that Tazzen Mandizvidza had been appointed the new Newsnet Editor-in-Chief, I took time to look at the station’s Tuesday’s News Hour and the next day’s This Morning. What I found in just those bulletins was an astounding case of “how not to broadcast.” Tazzen has a great job to do.
News Hour: Tuesday 14th November 2006
Story 1
“Meteorological Services Department says the rains that has started falling in most parts of the country signals the start of the 2006/7 rains season…” what followed were details of water patterns around the country.
The falling of normal rains around this time is not news, let alone top news. If floods had occurred it could have been worth a story. At best this story was a basic weather report or stuff for Murimi wanhasi or Talking Farming.
Story 2
“Most farmers countrywide still are battling to secure combine harvesters in a desperate attempt to save their crop from the rains…”
Since ZTV has always reported on such “challenges” (to use their wording) – what was new about this? The story gave the wrong impression that the rains were unexpected.
Story 3
Agronomists have called for institutional intervention in dealing with late harvesting problems. The experts also called for rehabilitation of agricultural machinery.
Badly read by Dave Emberton, the above observation was too pedestrian and certainly required no expert opinions of agronomists. It was common sense. ZTV has a major disease of lining up “analysts” or “commentators” who simply say the obvious.
Story 4
President Mugabe has left Harare for Djibouti for a COMESA meeting. “Meanwhile Vice President, Joseph Msika will be the acting president.”
Mugabe leaving Harare is hardly news to anymore. The man always leaves Zimbabwe for one meeting or another.
Story 5
Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, has called on people in leadership to be honest and live exemplary lives…”
The call is so banal as to be useless. It does not take a minister saying this, it simply goes without saying. The story could be why is the minister saying this? Is there a crisis of exemplary and honest leadership?
Story 7
Government has unveiled a $4.2 billion to Agribank for the support of maize and small grains production by communal and A1 farmers for the 2006/7 agricultural season.
The story quoted Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) vice president, Edward Raradza, predictably welcoming the fund. The report never refreshed its readers to an earlier contentious government policy to withdraw subsidies to “new farmers.” Was this a policy reversal? What was “welcome” about a facility introduced when the rain season had already commenced as reported in the first three top stories of the same bulletin? What a contradiction!
ZTV simply downloads news clips from the international media and flight them as its own. The station goes put its reporters’ by lines and voice-overs. Sometimes the stories are credited to Newsnet’s “Research Team.” Plagiarism is the cardinal sin any journalist can commit. On ZTV’s “news beyond our borders” it the normal thing to do everyday with impunity.
Wednesday 14th November 2006
Story 1
“South Korean ambassador… said Zimbabwe’s economy can recover from its current form and become a force to reckon with within the global economy.”
A statement made at a business lecture in Bulawayo. Any country on earth can fit that probability. Such statement praising Zimbabwe seem to be part of standing editorial rules in ZTV’s feel-good ZTV journalism.
Story 2
Hailstorms destroyed property worth billions of dollars and three government schools in Bulawayo on Monday night…although Newsnet could not get pictures some residents of Kumalo who spoke to Newsnet said….” The story went to depend on residents for details. This was a classic case of bad journalism
1.Belated news- the event occurred on Monday night but reported on Wednesday morning, three days after.
2.Instead of getting some video footage to witness the extend of the damage for themselves viewers got a still picture of reporter, Jackie Gwemende, narrating the damage in her own words – a direct contradiction of a common saying in journalism that says “A picture tells a thousand words.”
3.This story is much more important than Story 1, 2 and 3 of the previous night
4.ZTV inherently fails to utilise the television medium for breaking news or live coverage. The worldwide norm is a disaster occurrence get due prominence and breaking news priority has an import news value: IMPACT (how many people were, are or will be affected?). “News just received” is usually about President Mugabe or Zanu PF having said something even it of no news interest. Zimbabweans get “live” news when there is a government-sponsored musical gala. Other cases of failures of prompt coverage include the Chikuti Bus Disaster, Dingamombe Train Disaster and earthquakes that affected some parts of the country. It is not clear why ZTV is so averse to the loss of human lives and the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans. ZTV’s reflex to celebrate government’s sadistic crackdowns on the suffering masses one “Operations” or another has reached to the level of crimes against humanity.

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *