Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If It Ain't Your Forte...(2)

I occasionally come across stuff from Bongoland that makes me happy. Likewise, I come across things that outright make me go crazy. Come with me.

I recently came across an interview posted on Issa Michuzi’s blog, where Michuzi had an opportunity to interview Anna Kahama Rupia of Seacom regarding the fiber optic project that is soon to be operational in Tanzania.

So the following is an excerpt of the interview:

Michuzi: For ordinary Tanzanians, what should they expect out of the fiber optic services?

Anna: They should expect reliability in communication. They speed is faster as well. Because now we are not relying on satellite, it is all fiber optics. So now you can down big files. Imagine downloading a 3 hours movie in a matter of seconds. That’s what they should be expecting.
And then reduction in costs as well, because right now all the carriers are paying about $3,000 to $5,000 per megabyte per month per capacity. With our costs, they will be paying under $100. So there is a reduction in cost.

Michuzi: Now, is that not a threat to our ISP or cell phone companies?

Anna: No. We are a complement to their business. We’re reducing their costs. They were paying more, now they are paying less…

Michuzi: I’m talking about their business…

Check out the entire interview for yourself right here…

Given that I’m not a journalist by profession, I’m disqualified from discussing some deep technical stuff connected to the art of journalism. Nonetheless, as a consumer of journalistic products, I can tell a good journalistic product from a lemon.

I think one of the key ingredients of good journalism/interviewing is listening. Maybe I am missing something, but it appears Michuzi didn’t do a good job at listening or comprehending what the interviewee was saying. As a result, he ended up asking ridiculous follow-up questions that were meaningless in the general business context and the strategic reasons for the Seacom’s project.

And then some folks (see the comments at the Michuzi’s blog) still wondered why the lady was sheepishly smiling? I’m sure she was just playing nice.

I also believe that a good journalist must be technically good at the subject matter. Folks who watch the NBA and other sports programs in the United States can relate to my argument, as most TV analysts are former players or coaches in the particular game they analyze. Michuzi is definitely a great photographer, but I am not sure if he is technically good to indepthly cover IT and business matters. And the interview with Anna Kahama Rupia showed that.

This is really not a knock on Michuzi, because lack of polished communication skills is a general problem in Tanzania. Furthermore, what is reflected in the Michuzi’s interview is something that tells a story about the quality of journalism in Tanzania. If this is the best we can get, then I can’t really get mad at some politicians who have a few nice things to say about journalists in Tanzania.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

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