New kid on the news front exudes freshness, experience

The emergence of the new news channel, NewzRoom Afrika, on our screens on Thursday May 2, 2019, was greeted with applauses and well wishes, deservedly so.

It really presented itself as a valuable competitor in the news environment even though it had little time to prepare for the launch. Some of the major news channels took years to prepare.

The country has been longing for a channel that would add to the plurality of voices and provide an alternative to the voices that already existed. Plurality of voices is essential as it provides the public with diverse views that enable them to make informed decisions.

NewzRoom Afrika did not disappoint, if the launch day is anything to go by.

The void that was created by the closure of ANN7 created a higher anticipation and put the bar higher than it would have normally been. It was therefore a huge task for the team that was preparing for this new channel to come up with innovative ideas.

The channel must prove itself and perform beyond these expectations. It must hit the ground running as it doesn't have the luxury of time to gradually introduce itself to the audience.

The ownership of the channel also proves a lot of misconceptions wrong.

Former SABC news anchor Thabile Ngwato, 28, who has a track record as an entrepreneur, has teamed up with Thokozani Nkosi, 43, of Eclipse TV, to run Newzroom Afrika as joint-CEOs, making it a 100% black-owned and 50% women owned news channel.

It boasts a line-up of respected voices in broadcast media. We have already seen how former eNCA news anchors Cathy Mohlahlane and Thulasizwe Simelane and radio talk show veteran JJ Tabane did not spare first citizen President Cyril Ramaphosa during their first broadcast and asked him tough questions in what they call a Round Table discussion.

The fact that it is managed by black young people does not only put emphasis on black excellence. It also focuses itself on the role young South Africans can play in the country.

This comes at a time when the country is debating the role and contribution of young people in our society. For a country to have a future, young people need to be empowered, as it is the case with NewsRoom Afrika.

This young black management team needs support from other established managers and organisations such as the Black Management Forum (BMF) in order to make this initiative a success. They need support from all sectors of business.

The channel is going to encounter its fair share of challenges as it ventures into an environment that can be hostile at times. That is why we need professionals to support them while the rest of South Africans should also rally behind the channel.

Our country needs a diversity of views and different angles of approach to South African stories and those from the continent.

We, as Africans, must tell our own stories or risk them being told by others. If the stories of the jungle are told by the hunters, the angle will always favour the hunters.

We, therefore, should applaud MultiChoice for being brave to afford young black entrepreneurs a chance to prove themselves and to show the country, the continent and the world that it can be done.

The calibre of talent that was paraded during the launch creates a good base for a channel of this nature as it exudes a lot of experience. It is important for the management to use this opportunity to nurture new talent as there has always been an outcry that the same faces and voices are used by our news channels.

There must be a clear partnership between the channel and the institutions that produces journalists.

This will enable the channel to provide much needed experience while helping the institutions with the practical lessons that the students need.

This will contribute positively into the development of the youth and to encourage them to enter the journalism profession in huge numbers.

Let us support this initiative and ensure that it succeeds as it's success is not only for the channel but that of the country too.

It's also a good way to celebrate 25 years of democracy by exposing the maturity of our young talent in the country.

The youth deserve opportunities to prove themselves and to prepare themselves for the future.

*Kganyago is a media commentator and a former spokesperson of the SABC

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