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A day of fire and questions

08 January 2022
EWN Managing Editor, Ray White describes what reporters go through when something as drastic as the parliamentary fire takes place. The reasons underlying this alleged arson are yet to be uncovered… More on Carte Blanche, Sunday 9 January.
Parliament Fire

The cycle of news has been brutal and unrelenting – on a daily and sometimes hourly basis – news breaks in our country and being a major news gatherer and broadcaster, Eyewitness News is ready for this.

Sunday the second of January was a day like any other, with the funeral of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu having taken place the day before. But just after 7am, the first reports of a fire at Parliament started to emerge.

Eyewitness News is based on the foundation of the public assisting in being our eyes and ears – telling us what they see. By 7.10am, it was becoming very clear through pictures sent by news sources and others that there was a problem in parliament – a fire had broken out in what appeared to be the rear section of Parliament.

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Image: City of Cape Town - JP Smith
Any EWN reporter knows that when an editor calls early on a weekend morning that something has happened – and it’s important. Within a few rings, Cape Town reporter Lauren Isaacs answered, grabbed her kit and immediately set off towards Parliament. It was then that her day began.

When training reporters on doing live crossings, as they are just arriving on a scene the standard practice is to move from left to right, describing what they see. This creates a picture in the listener’s mind. Lauren is very good at this and immediately we began with our reports crossing to 702 and CapeTalk. The advantage of radio is that it’s immediate and quick.

After setting the scene, the next task is to gather sound, take pictures for the website and get official comment so that the public gets an informed picture of the scene. Sometimes spokespeople can be difficult, but it’s the job of the reporter to simply report on what they have learnt.

Lauren spent the day talking to officials and reporting on the fire that spread rapidly through the building. Her day began just after 7am – it ended after midnight.

This is a story that saw the centre of government almost destroyed – that morning and Lauren’s reports will be remembered for many years.

~ Ray White (EWN Manging Editor)
Get your latest EWN coverage of the parly fire at ewn.co.za.

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Image: City of Cape Town - JP Smith