New posting for ‘Witness’ editor, Durban edition closed

2014-11-25 00:00

WITNESS editor Andrew Trench has been appointed editor of News24.

Trench, a former editor of the Daily Dispatch in East London and news editor of the Sunday Times, also led the award-winning Media24 Investigations unit at the forefront of covering major stories like the textbook ­tender corruption scandal and the police secret intelligence fund.

Ishmet Davidson, general manager of Media24 News, also announced yesterday the closure of The Witness’s Durban edition re-launched in tabloid format in August.

“It was a painful decision, but one we had to take,” said Davidson.

The Durban edition had been launched as a tabloid “because it was difficult to satisfy the local needs of both Pietermaritzburg and Durban readers in one hybrid ­package”.

The edition showed “positive early results, but the investment period is too long”, he added. “Traditional print media in South Africa, like media businesses around the world, is under pressure and we don’t have the benefit of being such patient investors,” said Davidson.

The closure would not result in any retrenchments of editorial staff.

Trench’s experience in data journalism, civic journalism and cross-platform ­storytelling would enhance the News24 offering across the continent and signalled an increase in Media24’s ­investment in digital media, said Geoff Cohen, general manager of, home to News24.

Trench said the challenge of enhancing News24 “with award-winning original content was enough of a rush for me to accept”.

He takes up his new position on December 1.

“The Witness has a loyal and discerning following in Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands and we have focused on strengthening our relationship with them,” he said. “We raised the profile of the paper and concentrated on giving our readers more of the bread-and-butter local ­reporting they enjoy. I think we got it right.”

Davidson said The Witness would continue serving the ­Pietermaritzburg community.

A new editor would be announced in due course.

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