Independent News statement on Terry Bell

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Statement by Independent Newspapers Group Executive Editor, Karima Brown:

There has recently been a high level of interest and public comment on the decision by the editor of Business Report, Ellis Mnyandu, to suspend the 'Inside Labour' column, which has been written by Terry Bell for the last 18 years.

In a statement, the editor explained that this was part of a general review of the paper, including its coverage of labour matters and the roles and responsibilities of its freelance contributors.

Mr. Bell has since taken the matter to the CCMA.

I will therefore not discuss the specifics of the matter, except only to re-iterate two points:

- All freelance contributors, including columnists, serve at the discretion of the respective title editors. This is the practice of all newspapers across the world, and Business Report is no exception.

- Mr. Bell is not and never has been an employee of Business Report.

We've noted a statement by Cosatu calling on the group to re-instate Mr. Bell's column.

We respect the views of organised labour as a key constituency and a major shareholder in the Sekunjalo consortium that owns Independent Newspapers.

However, our titles are not beholden to any of these constituencies, and will not take instructions from Cosatu, political parties, business interests or anyone else, on who they should retain as contributors.

That will remain the prerogative of our editorial teams.

As part of a wider review and recalibration of all our titles and platforms, we commit to more comprehensive, diverse and inclusive coverage of organised labour, worker issues and the world of work in general.

Given the competitive nature of our business I will not reveal the details of our plans, except to say that we intend to provide unions, both in and outside Cosatu, space to write and speak for themselves, unmediated by journalists and analysts.

We do this because we believe workers, and organised labour in particular, represent an important part of the economic, political and social landscape in South Africa.


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