Grubstreet: SA editors recall the day Nelson Mandela died

by Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) For the past couple of years — and especially last year as the health of Nelson Mandela health steadily deteriorated — South Africa’s editors waited, prepared and planned for when the father of the nation would pass on. Still, most were dreading it because they knew it would be one of the most challenging, extraordinary stories of our time.

Covering Mandela health, reporters face various obstacles

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) The classic Hollywood image of pushy reporters stabbing each other in the back and stepping over the body in the quest for an exclusive is often just that: a celluloid stereotype.

And it’s when the story becomes really difficult – such as with the ailing Nelson Mandela – that you find journalists sticking together and helping each other out with information, leads on the next development and contacts.

This may lead to some homogeneity of the news – and aside from Debora Patta’s scoop for CBS of Mandela’s ambulance break down, we haven’t seen many exclusive breaks in the Mandela story over the past month. In fact, the lack of genuine scoops is an indication of how challenging it has been to cover this story.

In both Pretoria – where Mandela has been in hospital for a month – and in the Transkei – where reporters are racing between Mthatha, Qunu and Mvezo covering the family fight over the remains of Mandela’s three children – journalists are battling with a lack of official information or are being chased away by police and security guards.

Mixed reviews for online launch of news brand eNCA

by Herman Manson (@marklives) eNCA, the South African based satellite news channel, recently launched a beta version of their website promising “an immersive experience for users”.

eNCA should be a much bigger news brand in the South African media market than it is. Its reach is limited to subscribers to MultiChoice’s DStv platform (and more recently the SKY digital satellite platform in the United Kingdom) although it also syndicates news content to free-to-air channel The rebranding from eNews to eNCA in late 2012 means the brand is also still new to consumers.

While it dominates satellite news and its viewership figures is nothing to sneeze at, as a news brand it can and should be much stronger. A multi-channel approach is required to build any media brand today, and with revenue under pressure, the stakes for this business could not be higher.

Remgro, which owns a substantial stake in the eNCA holding company, Sabido, said in its unaudited results for the six months ended 31 December 2012 that advertising sales on and eNCA were “under pressure during the period under review but programming and operating costs remained stable.”

To address this, Remgro announced in a SENS statement that “the focus of the group for the forthcoming months is the ongoing development of a multi-channel strategy to enhance its competitiveness across a multiplicity of platforms and provide opportunities for new revenue streams. This includes the launch of Online and eNCA Online in the first half of 2013.”

There is obviously a lot at stake for the larger eNCA brand in pulling off the successful launch of

But reviews thus far have been mixed, at best. “Creating a new online home for eNews Channel Africa could have presented the news brand with a great opportunity to differentiate itself from the public broadcaster, but unfortunately an outdated look and cluttered execution just makes it look like more of the same,” says journalist and media commentator Mandy de Waal. “Fonts aside, the SABC and ENCA news sites are much of a muchness.”

Marikana: Watershed moment for online journalism in SA as Daily Maverick sets ed agenda

by Herman Manson. One of the first stories on Marikana, by Greg Marinovich and filed for the Daily Maverick, was quick to recognise the broader scope of the conflict, not just at Marikana but also the impact on the mining industry.

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