Thabo Leshilo, editor-in-chief of the Sowetan and Sunday World, is currently completing a prestigious Nieman fellowship in the UK. He will study economics and its application to public policy. The fellowship will conclude at the end of August 2009.
In his absence, a number of changes have been made to the staff. Bongani Keswa, publisher of the Sowetan and Sunday World, says he will be acting as editor-in-chief. “Our finance manager, Jason Sequeira will act as publisher and the Mail and Guardian‘s (associate editor and sports editor) Fikile Moya has been appointed executive editor.”
When asked about rumours that Leshilo will not return to the company as editor-in-chief, Keswa said: “Ten months is a long time, so one can never say what will happen. But the intention is for him to return to the position of editor.”
Keswa adds that the Sowetan is currently working on brand positioning. “We plan to change the look and feel of the newspaper. We want to move away from the ‘struggle type background’. Our readers are moving away from townships and into the suburbs and people are becoming more aspirant. We have to keep one step ahead of our readers.
“We expect that this will occur in about three or four months.”
Andrew Trench, deputy-editor of the Daily Dispatch, has been promoted to editor. Trench will replace outgoing editor Phylicia Oppelt from December 1. Various rumours imply that Oppelt is moving to the Sowetan or will be “given special projects” across a number of Avusa-owned titles. Trench confirms that Oppelt is moving to the Avusa Headquarters in Johannesburg, but could not confirm the position she will hold, saying that “her contract and duties are yet to be finalised”.