M&G owner weighs in on Indy attacks

2014-07-22 21:22

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Johannesburg - Mail & Guardian owner Trevor Ncube on Tuesday weighed in on what he called "attacks" from Independent Newspapers.

"A pattern is emerging that every time the Mail & Guardian [M&G] contacts Dr Iqbal Surve... or his executives, for a comment on a story they are working on, it is turned into an opportunity to attack me or my publications," he said in a statement.

"I have avoided responding to these attacks because I strongly believe that the wider public does not benefit when publishers fight."

Ncube said he decided to respond in order to provide context and "put the record straight".

On Friday, The Star reported that the M&G was facing a cash crunch so severe that suppliers, contributors, and some staff had not been paid for months, and that it had defaulted on its rent.

It reported that the company faced a potential strike over bonuses and incentives, and that two staffers were considering legal action.

Unnamed sources told the newspaper that the crisis was the result of Ncube's loss-making Zimbabwean operations.

It claimed that Ncube's Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), which operates newspapers in Zimbabwe, was not financially healthy and that the M&G was being used to subsidise his business interests to keep it afloat.

This was denied by the M&G's chief executive Hoosain Karjieker.

Staff at the M&G believed the article may have been as a result of its phone calls to Independent Newspapers executives this week enquiring about the owners of the Sekunjalo consortium, and the departure of staffers, for an article. The story had not yet been published.

Independent Newspapers' group executive editor Karima Brown at the time denied The Star's story had anything to do with the M&G's planned story on them.

Negative press coverage

Ncube on Tuesday complained that no effort was made by The Star to get comment from him to verify the allegations in its story.

He said if the purpose of Independent Newspapers' negative press coverage was to persuade him to stop M&G journalists from doing "legitimate, credible and ethical journalism, then I am afraid that this will never happen".

"At M&G and AMH we don’t tell our journalists which stories to write and which ones to kill.

"We employ professional journalists and then let them do their work to the best of their ability. This will remain the way of our journalism for as long as I have anything to do with these two great companies," Ncube said.

He explained that M&G and AMH operated independently of each other and were self-sustainable.

"Like all companies in Zimbabwe, AMH is dealing with the challenges of an economy in free fall.

"The M&G is operating under the same economic conditions as the rest of the industry, and continues to operate successfully as one of the key independent media voices in South Africa," he said.

Read more on:    independent newspapers  |  mail & guardian  |  johannesburg  |  media

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