I decided not to publish Gupta story, says editor

2010-09-29 15:52

The New Age editor-in-chief Vuyo Mvoko has maintained that the decision not to run a story about the arrest of its publisher, Atul Gupta, was made by Mvoko and not Gupta.

On Monday, while addressing journalists outside the Randburg Magistrates Court where his case was expected to be heard, Gupta asked if a reporter from The New Age was present.

He then asked the paper not to publish the story about him as he did not want the paper to “print something related to my family”.

Gupta was arrested on Saturday night and charged with interfering with police in the performance of their duties after he had refused to be searched when his car was pulled over, according to reports.

The state, however, declined to prosecute Gupta.

The publication’s website has not run a story about Gupta’s ordeal.

Mvoko said he had told Gupta that he respected his position but he (Mvoko) was responsible for “what we publish and what we don’t”.

Asked about the decision not to publish the story about Gupta on its website, Mvoko said his staff was busy working on producing mock-ups of The New Age, which is set to be launched in October, and said Gupta “does not have a say on what we decide to publish”.

He said: “I refuse to bow to pressure because people have chosen one story to judge us by. We had other important things to do to improve our systems.”

The managing editor of the paper, Gary Naidoo, said they had received the “request by Gupta but ultimately the decision is made by the editor”.

According to Raymond Louw, deputy chairperson of the SA National Editors’ Forum’s media freedom committee, Gupta’s ordeal was newsworthy and, as such, it could be expected that The New Age would cover it as newspapers were in the business of publishing newsworthy stories.

He said Gupta’s request would compromise the editorial independence of the newspaper “if it carries out his instructions”.

Louw said: “An owner cannot instruct his newspaper to not write about him.”

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