The Mail & Guardian is sad but proud as it bids farewell to its editor-in-chief Verashni Pillay, who is set to join the Huffington Post’s new edition in South Africa as its editor-in-chief.
Verashni has been with the M&G for a total of six years including a year as editor, where she has achieved a remarkable amount together with her deputy Beauregard Tromp.
“Verashni managed to effect a much needed turn-around at the Mail & Guardian in a very short space of time,” said CEO Hoosain Karjieker.
“We are loathe to let her go but equally we realise what a brilliant opportunity this is for her and don’t want to hold her back.”
Verashni joined the publication on the back of retrenchments, resignations and declining circulation. She recruited a strong editorial team, including Beauregard as news editor and later deputy. Together they managed to arrest the circulation decline and dramatically grow the numbers, and then restructure the newsroom to lower costs and still hire a very strong editorial team.
Beauregard will be in place as acting editor, bolstered by other senior managers like Matthew du Plessis as managing editor, Phillip de Wet as associate editor, Shaun de Waal as editor-at-large, Matuma Letsoalo as politics editor and Jessica Bezuidenhout as head of investigations.
“The M&G has benefited greatly from Verashni’s leadership but we now have solid plans and an editorial vision in place, not to mention a very talented and experienced newsroom,” said Beauregard.
“It’s obviously sad to see her go but we know she is a digital native at heart and this new position is a dream job for her in many ways.”
Verashni expressed her sadness at leaving the M&G.
“I definitely was not looking to leave but this amazing opportunity landed very suddenly, in the week. That coupled with the fact that we have such a solid team and newsroom leadership made me feel confident that I can make the move.
“Freeing up my position for an editor with fresh energy and skills also means that the M&G will have the strongest possible foundation as it enters into a new phase of its future that will see a growth of funded journalism and digital consumption.”
Verashni will join Huffington Post South Africa from November 7 and the publication will announce a new editor shortly.
The M&G has seen a growth of nearly 30% in its digital audience in the last year thanks to the introduction of the new daily edition, which sees up to 10 pieces of quality articles being published on the site daily. A new site relaunch and digital strategy has seen a fundamental change in the newsroom, which has improved the quality of our journalism across platforms. In addition, there have been a series of talented individuals hired across sections, dramatically transforming the newsroom in terms of race and gender as well as innovation and ideas.
“The M&G is in a very strong position thanks to the team that are in place,” said Verashni. “It is incredibly difficult to walk away from a place that has become my home and family, but the M&G is much bigger than any editor and has shown that it can overcome anything. It can only go upwards from here on.”
Read Verashni’s farewell letter here.