New Age fails to launch

2010-10-20 12:22

Johannesburg – A new newspaper with close ties to the country's ruling party failed to launch on Wednesday after five top staff including the editor resigned hours before it was due to hit the streets.

The New Age, which is backed by the Times of India, is owned by wealthy Indian immigrants whose close links to the ANC have fuelled speculation that the newspaper will be a pro-government mouthpiece.

"We were ready to go to print today. We withheld that publication with respect for those editorial staff that have stayed on," managing editor Gary Naidoo told Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday.

"We have been prepared and we have been working throughout the weekend. We've been working right up to Monday. We did not anticipate this."

The five senior editorial staff members who gave notice at 13:00 on Tuesday included the editor in chief, deputy editor and news editor.

"We have taken the decision that it would be neither proper nor professionally acceptable for us to speak publicly about the reasons for our decision," the five said in a joint statement.

Published in a week or two

Naidoo estimated that the newspaper would be published in "maybe a week, two weeks".

"The owners and proprietors are very committed. Those that have stayed on are fully committed to this project," he said.

The entry of the New Age comes amid increasing tensions in South Africa over press freedoms.

The ANC is pushing to create a media appeals tribunal to punish bad reporting, and the drafting of a separate information bill has raised fears that journalists could be jailed for revealing government secrets.

The newspaper is owned by the Gupta Group, wealthy Indian immigrants who arrived in the country in 1993, and who say the paper will highlight the achievements of the ANC-led government in social development and the economy.