The senior management of eNews has issued the following statement in response to media reports that it refused to grant senior journalist Beauregard Tromp study leave for his recently awarded Nieman Fellowship, which gives him the opportunity to study at Harvard University in the US for a year. Tromp has subsequently resigned in order to take up the Fellowship.
The eNews statement reads: Beauregard Tromp is a worthy recipient of the Nieman Fellowship. We are very proud of him for being selected.
He joins a long list of eNews staff who have been selected for study programmes, scholarships and fellowships all over the world. eNews Senior Anchor Nikiwe Bikitsha was awarded the Hubert Humphrey’s Fellowship, and will take special leave from August to take part in the programme in the United States. Three staffers have received scholarships to Columbia University within the past year.
eNews funds its own fellowship to Duke University sending between two and three staffers each year to North Carolina. As far as we are aware no other newsroom in South Africa funds its own fellowship to an American university. Prime Time News editor Phathiswa Magopeni and senior reporter Belinda Moses attended the eNews Fellowship to Duke within the past year, and Assignments editor Mapi Mhlangu has been selected to attend later this year.
Over and above this, eNews sends two staffers to Atlanta for training with CNN each year.
It is within this context, and in order to treat all applicants fairly, that eNews requires staff to have worked for the company for a minimum of three years before being eligible for special leave. Regrettably, this policy was instituted after past employees have abused this privilege and have failed to return to our employment, despite contractual obligations, or have resigned with immediate effect upon returning to the country.
Beauregard only joined our company towards the end of last year and is therefore not eligible as per our policy. Furthermore, he did not apply for the Nieman Fellowship for 2013. He applied in 2011 while employed as a print journalist, but was declined in favour of Fred Khumalo.
This year the Nieman selection committee in South Africa failed to secure a suitable candidate, and so took the rather unusual step of granting the 2013 position to a past and unsuccessful candidate. We find it regrettable that they failed to engage with us before doing so.
Beauregard understands and respects our company position, and is mindful that many other members of our team are ahead of him in the queue when it comes to special leave. We remain on good terms with him. Furthermore an open invitation was extended to Beauregard to return to eNews should he wish to do so after the programme. He is a remarkably talented journalist with a very bright future. His future is in no way compromised by the decision to resign in order to take up the Nieman offer.
eNews is gravely disappointed in the slanderous and disingenuous statements made by members of the Nieman SA selection committee and former Nieman fellows. We find these mean spirited statements to be unbecoming of this prestigious fellowship and will engage with the Nieman Foundation in the US directly to raise our concerns in this regard.