Statement from Independent Newspapers on the suspension of Donwald Pressly
Business Report has this week placed its Cape Town bureau chief, Mr. Donwald Pressly, on suspension pending an internal investigation that will consider certain aspects of Mr. Pressly's conduct. Under ordinary circumstances, neither Independent Newspapers nor any of its titles would comment publicly about such matters pertaining to its employees.
We take our employees' right to privacy and dignity very seriously, and are keenly aware that labour disputes can often be a source of stress and personal anguish for those involved.
However, given high public interest in the matter and the fundamental issues of trust that are raised by Mr Pressly's conduct, it is necessary to communicate publicly. It has come to Independent's attention that Mr Pressly has recently sought elected political office with a political party, by applying to the said party's Electoral College to be on its list of candidates for parliament during the 2014 general elections.
Mr. Pressly did this without informing his editor, and while continuing to write news as well as opinion & analysis on the said political party without declaring his political intentions to our readers.
Should this be proven to be true, it would in our view constitute a breach of Independent Newspapers' editorial code of conduct and code of ethics and a breach of the trust that those readers place in our titles and the writers who put them together.
This and other unrelated issues are the subject of the internal investigation.It is especially incumbent on the media to be vigilant during an election year, when our profession comes under a great amount of pressure from political parties jostling for space and prominence in our platforms. Our readers and audiences expect nothing less of us.
In line with this, our company is drafting and will soon issue a set of election coverage guidelines for all our journalists, to help them navigate the ethical, legal and operational challenges of elections coverage.
GROUP EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Statement issued by Independent Newspapers, January 24 2014
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