Sunday, October 1, 2017

MEDIA EMPIRE CHIEF ANDREW BONAMOUR'S STARTLING ALLEGATIONS IN DEFENCE OF HIS FLAGSHIP PAPER THE SUNDAY TIMES

Dear Newspaper Readers,
Andrew Bonamour CEO of Tiso
Blackstar Group
          Being in the business of cornering shysters and highlighting inefficiencies would surely have taught the Sunday Times that coming clean was always the best way to defuse any situation.
          But when it had its own back to the wall about employing a crooked journalist it showed it has learnt nothing from its exposés or what it advocates for others.
          Apologising was not in its vocabulary.
          This was disturbingly illustrated after my post: Exposed: The Sunday Times’ love affair with a crook (love affair) was published on my blog on 10/9/2017.
          I pointed out how wrong it was that Jim Jones, the one time Editor of the Johannesburg based Business Day, had continued to be featured as a writer in the Sunday Times’ business section (Business Times) for eight years after he had been publicly exposed as a thief in a 2009 report in Noseweek, South Africa’s only investigate magazine.
          As if that was not bad enough Noseweek also revealed that he had abused his position as one of the paper’s freelances to get his own back by writing a scathing article about Moneyweb, an online financial publication. This was founded by Alec Hogg where Jones had been employed as its Mineweb Editor. Hogg was still there when the firm fired Jones after he stole the equivalent of R200 000 from it.
Bongani Siqoko

          On 21/9/2017 I asked the Sunday Times Editor Bongani Siqoko in an email if he was “big enough to tell me that Jim Jones will not write for the Sunday Times again.” But he wasn’t. I got a read report and nothing more.
          So I put the same question to Andrew Bonamour the Chief Executive of Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media) the Group that owns the Sunday Times. I told him I got no answer to my email from his Editor Bongani and gave him the link to my post.
          I added; “I accept that this happened before you took over as CEO (This was in 2012), but that should not stop you from healing the wound to some extent now, by giving me the undertaking that I have asked for.
          “How different in principle is this kind of behaviour by the Sunday Times to what KPMG and the like have been doing, even if it is on a smaller scale?”
          The replies I got were made even more peculiar by the fact that Andrew has been, or still is a director of a host of companies and his areas of expertise include investment banking and corporate finance. They were so odd that I wondered if perhaps they were the work of a hacker.
          Apart from this aspect his assertions had the same tone as the ones Jones displayed when he took Moneyweb apart. Bonamour’s ones however, did not even have a semblance of truth in them.
          “Are you sure you have the eighth(sic) person,” his email said. “*Jim Johns bea(sic) was former editor of BD. There is a *Jim Jones who is also a union leader.”
          Business Day is in the same Group as the Sunday Times so I would have expected Bonamour to have got his facts right about Jones’ tenure there. He also should have been aware of what happened to Jones when he was at Moneyweb, and if he didn’t know he could have easily found out.
          In a subsequent email he told me: “You(sic) wrong. Don’t just take Alec Hogg’s word for something.”
          “I’ve got the right person alright,” I replied. I included two attachments from Google that showed that Jones had been the Editor of Business Day and Noseweek had carried an article entitled: High on the Hog. How Jim Jones ripped off his website employer and then spun the story…… Former Business Day Editor Jim Jones.
          “If I had got it wrong,” I told him “I would have expected the Sunday Times Editor and the Business Times Editor to have corrected me by now.”
          Nothing I could do would get him to agree that his biggest selling paper had made a huge mistake in continuing to employ a known crook and that it would not be using him again.
          Having dismissed Hogg as a liar quite unjustifiably, he said something similar about Noseweek in his final email: “Noseweek is hardly a source. They write what they want.”
          So with the Sunday Times in the dock his pathetic defence was to just rubbish the prosecution regardless of the overwhelming evidence against his paper.
Alec Hogg

          Hogg, who is now the Editor and Publisher of BizNews, had this to say when I passed on Bonamour’s comments about him: “I never expected that from him. Sad.”
          He explained that the Moneyweb board had given Jones the chance to repay the money which he did. “I was against it and wanted to press charges but was overruled,” he stated. “They did agree that we would inform the SA Reserve Bank and tax authorities, which we did. I never heard anything more.
          “After he consulted his lawyers Jones’ defence was that I said he could inform our Canadian partners, Infomine, to divert money due to us into Jones’ Mauritius bank account.
          “Your concerns are valid but mud wrestling is an over-rated sport. There is nothing more powerful than the truth and it always wins in the end.
          “I moved on long ago.”
Today 1 October the Sunday Times explained exactly why its editor would not answer my question and why Bonamour was defending the use of Jim Jones even though he doesn’t seem to know who he is. 
Jim Jones

          Jones’ byline was on another Anglo American story on Page 6 of the Business Times. Could we suddenly find him being moved up to the paper’s Mining Editor, after all he did have the title of Mineweb Editor at Moneyweb.
          In the Letters to the Editor in the same edition Dave Harris fortifies my point perfectly. Headed Sunday Times is no holy cow he wrote that the paper had rightly shown no sympathy for KPMG, but we must not forget that by its own admission it had made mistakes in its reporting of the SARS investigative unit.
          “Barney Mthombothi (columnist) writes that the media has done a sterling job of exposing malpractice, while your editorial demands all must come clean and take it on the chin,” he continued.
          “The Sunday Times always needs to take into account its own fallibility, otherwise it may be the case of people in glass houses throwing stones.”
          Well it is certainly not making any admissions in the Jones case. It is doing exactly the opposite to coming clean, or taking it on the chin.
          How long can we expect this love affair to continue? And what will it do to the paper’s reputation, especial among the business fraternity that is well equipped to see the implications of this sort of thing.
          Before I posted this I sent a copy to Bonamour and invited him to make any comments he wished.
          He retorted that it was “bizarre that you would drag me into this when I don’t choose columnists nor do I interfere in ST or any publication. Media accounts for 20% of our business. I had never heard of Jim Jones until you emailed me.”
          It certainly was bizarre that he didn’t mention this in the first place.
Anonymous contributor
          He told me to take this up with the Editor of the Sunday Times and the Editor of the Business Times which I had already done.
He ended by saying: “You are welcome to run whatever story you like.”
So here goes.
          Regards,
          Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman, who tells you what the main stream media won’t normally reveal about its fellow club members.

*Note: Jimmy Johns is a substantial American sandwich restaurant chain and James Jones, known as Jack Jones was a well known British trade union leader who died in 2009. Were these the people Bonamour was thinking of when he got Jim Jones’ background so terribly wrong and asked me: “Are you sure you have the eighth(sic) person.”


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