15 February 2013

Namibia: Newspaper Suffers Brain Drain

Windhoek — Discontentment, especially within the newsroom, with management, alleged favouritism and a non-conducive working environment at The Namibian newspaper are said to have led to an unprecedented exodus from the daily with at least seven staff members tendering their resignations within a period of less than three months and more believed to be on the way out.

Among those that are leaving, or have already tendered their resignations, are news editor Daoud Vries, who is said to be headed for the Windhoek Observer, chief photographer Tanya Bause, who has left for the Allgemeine Zeitung and senior journalist for special programmes Jan Poolman, who is expected to join the tabloid newspaper Informanté.

Sources close to The Namibian indicate that staff members are unhappy with the management of the newsroom, where most of the haemorrhaging is being experienced. Some sources also complain about alleged preferential treatment or favouritism, including a subtle form of 'racism', in matters relating to the remuneration of staff members practised at the English daily.

"Despite raking in millions, the company staff, especially journalists are some of the lowest paid in Namibia," said a source that requested anonymity. "The work environment is not conducive. We even use private cars without the company paying for the wear and tear on private cars," said the source, adding that the newspaper refuses to pay for the maintenance of their vehicles, which they use to carry out work related assignments.

When approached for comment this week, the editor of The Namibian, Tangeni Amupadhi said the newspaper does not consider the resignations as something out of the ordinary, because those that have left, or are leaving have provided reasons such as to further their studies, while others have apparently left in their constant quest for greener pastures.

"Otherwise, it may be because The Namibian is being re-organised with the sole aim of making us relevant and nimble in a changing news media business [environment]. It is very likely that some people are uncomfortable with the changes, accompanied by demands for increased quality and competence and would have preferred to remain as they have always been," Amupadhi said.

"We appreciate those who step aside, because they do not buy into our vision for the future rather than to walk along with us and constantly lay obstacles in our path," said Amupadhi. He further said: "Christof Maletsky, for example, has been appointed the managing editor in one of such re-organisation steps that, we believe, will rejuvenate The Namibian to handle a fast-changing media world for many years to come."

On the issue of salaries, Amupadhi urged this reporter to compare his pay-slip with the sources to verify their allegations. "May I again ask you and your sources to compare your salaries as a way for you to verify their allegations," he recommended. He added that only the human resources department has a global knowledge of individual salaries, because of the confidentiality of the salaries of all personnel of the newspaper.

"The Namibian has hired staff along suitability and grades and not on the mere whims of individuals," said the editor. Amupadhi also denied the existence of discrimination and racism at The Namibian saying: "I can only suspect that any journalist making such an accusation is himself or herself prejudiced and wants to create a smokescreen for schemes unbeknown to us."

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