Verashni Pillay the M&G's new editor-in-chief

In addition Phillip de Wet appointed acting deputy editor

M&G appoints new editor-in-chief

Johannesburg - Verashni Pillay is the Mail & Guardian's new editor-in-chief, the newspaper announced on its website on Monday.

Phillip de Wet, who has been at the M&G since 2012, will be acting deputy editor. The announcement came after the paper lost its editor-in-chief Chris Roper, editor Angela Quintal and deputy editor Moshoeshoe Monare within in three months of each other.

Following the announcement on Monday, Pillay said she had thought long and hard about taking the job, but was excited.

"In the end the Mail & Guardian is an incredibly special place and, despite all the recent difficulty, is in a good position to rebuild and create something fresh for our current audience," she told News24.

"I know the publication and its people really well, having worked there for five years in various roles, and I feel I am well positioned to hit the ground running. I think most people at the M&G really just want to move on now and get back to what they do best: creating great journalism."

The 31-year-old Pillay believed she was the youngest editor to take the reins at the newspaper. 

"I've been talking to lots of people in the industry and at the M&G, getting loads of advice, and I'm very excited.

"I have a good mix of skills to make it work and intend surrounding myself with people who are very experienced in the industry," she said.

Editorial vision

Pillay and De Wet will take up their new roles at the M&G from October 19.

The M&G's Shaun de Waal would be acting as caretaker editor until then, the newspaper said.

Mail & Guardian CEO Hoosain Karjieker said on the publication's website that he was delighted by Pillay's appointment and looked forward to her asserting a new identity at the publication.

"Verashni has a talent for energising a team and creating a strong editorial vision," he said.

Quintal said Pillay had the talent and drive to rebuild the M&G.

"The Mail & Guardian survived a seismic period that began last year. It included tough economic conditions leading, among other things, to budget cuts, frozen posts and cash-flow challenges. It eventually culminated in last month's painful retrenchment process.

"The loss of the editor-in-chief, editor and deputy editor within three months of each other added to the perceptions of instability, but the Mail & Guardian is far bigger than any individual. It will continue to play a critical role in South African journalism, as well as in nurturing and strengthening our democracy."

She said as the new editor-in-chief, Pillay had the talent and drive to renew, heal and rebuild and reach out to contributors who had shared the pain of the last few tumultuous months. She and her new editorial management team were "perfectly placed" to drive the M&G's renaissance, Quintal added.

This article first appeared on News24 – see here