Launch of New Age postponed
The long-awaited print launch of the New Age did not take place on Wednesday as expected, coinciding with the sudden resignation of five key staff members.
A statement issued on Tuesday said: “The anticipated launch will be withheld ... however, the management and staff remain fully committed and are assured that this project will be a success.”
The staffers, which include editor Vuyo Mvoko, said that out of professionalism they would not discuss their reasons.
The others were deputy editor Karima Brown, opinion and analysis page editor Vukani Mde, news editor Amy Musgrave and arts and culture editor Damon Boyd. Night editor Jeremy Shepherd-Smith would be acting editor in the meantime.
The publication was supposed to have launched in September but, aside from a special issue delivered to the African National Congress’s national general council meeting in Durban in September, it had so far only published online.
The September postponement was because the paper felt it wasn’t ready and still had to break in the new technology it had purchased, and train staff.
A public relations company handling queries could not immediately say what the effect would be on advertisers who had booked space in the launch issues, and what the losses amounted to.
Breaking into the market
The New Age is one of a number mainstream newspapers to attempt breaking into the South African market in recent years. Media 24’s Nova, Nigerian venture ThisDay and Avusa’s weekend paper the Weekender have all folded.
Other new publications the Times and the Daily Sun are still publishing, with the Sun among the country’s best-selling publications.
The New Age was also to have published a Sunday edition. It intends covering all nine provinces at a cost of R3,50.
The newspaper would be published by Bennett Colemen & Co, which publishes the world’s largest English newspaper, the Times of India.
It would be funded by the Gupta Group, which has close links to the ruling ANC.
Publisher TNA Media’s executive chairperson is Atul Gupta, while former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad is a director and senior adviser, and former Anglo American SA CEO Lazarus Zim is a director.
Critics have cited Gupta’s business relationship with one of President Jacob Zuma’s children, and Pahad’s previous job as a minister in the presidency, as backing for the perception by some that the publication would be pro-government.—Sapa