Independent Newspapers slams National Press Club peddling misinformation

Over 100 workers have been retrenched. File picture: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay

Over 100 workers have been retrenched. File picture: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay

Published Nov 13, 2023


Independent Newspapers has called out the National Press Club (NPC) for sending out a factually incorrect statement in relation to the company’s recent retrenchment process.

The NPC released a statement on Sunday, November 12, noting its “concern and indignation at the retrenchment of 128 employees”.

The organisation claimed the retrenched employees had not been paid their severance packages but were instead provided with food vouchers worth R2,500.

However, Independent Newspapers said should the NPC have followed the basic principles of journalism, it would’ve approached the media company for comment before sending out the factually incorrect statement. Independent Newspapers also called for a retraction.

The vouchers referenced were activated on November 1, and there had been administrative delays on the provider’s side leading to some gift cards not being activated timeously. Further, the vouchers were not issued in lieu of severance packages, but as an additional show of goodwill.

Independent Newspapers further committed its intention to honour the negotiated retrenchment agreements with its former staff.

“For the record, Independent Media is committed to honouring the negotiated retrenchments agreements made with its former staff, all of whom have been directly communicated with.

“At no stage has Independent Media ever said it would not honour its agreements and to infer otherwise, as you have done in this abhorrent statement, is utter misinformation.

“As a body supposedly representing the press and upholding the values of the press code, we find your statement not only distasteful but contrary to the very code you allegedly protect,” part of the communication to the NPC read.

A spokesperson for Independent Media expressed the company’s concern for the lack of integrity shown by the National Press Club.

“Even more worrying, is that when we wrote to them to correct the errors and misinformation conveyed in their communication, they refused to retract or convey the truth.

“The truth of the matter is that Independent Media has always been committed to honouring the retrenchment packages, we have been in touch with our former colleagues and kept them abreast of the situation.

“Further, there seems to be major league misinformation around the Pick ‘n Pay vouchers. The NPC stated that these had been given to staff instead of their severance packages – this is false.

“The vouchers were given to former staff as a bonus and were to be activated from November 1. Some of the staff tried to use them before the activation date. Monies for these vouchers were all paid on time to the supplier.

“In not correcting their statement, the NPC has shown itself to be a representative body without integrity, and thus a sad indictment of its media members,” said the spokesperson.

When Independent Newspapers requested a retraction or correction from the NPC, it responded: “We have received your response to our media statement regarding the retrenchments at Independent Media and note your instruction to retract it.

“The exco has deliberated on the issue, therefore the National Press Club stands by its statement and we are not going to retract it.”