Published, May 10 2016, by Kevin Ritchie, The Star at 10:03am
As the first white editor of The Star in 13 years, Kevin Ritchie wasn’t sure he was right for the job – but he soon learnt otherwise.
Johannesburg – The voice on the other end of the line was clear: “I’ll use a sporting analogy with you: it’s your job to lose.”
To be honest I didn’t believe either the promise or the person behind it for a moment. I had a job to do, it was that simple. That morning, Makhudu Sefara, a man who I had come to respect immensely, had resigned as editor of The Star.
I had been his deputy every step of the way for two-and-a-half years.
As of 12 hours earlier I was now the acting editor of The Star – and almost incidentally the first white editor of Independent’s 128-year-old flagship title in almost 13 years.
It faded to irrelevance with the work ahead; the next edition had to come out, the one after that planned; staff needed to go on leave, staff needed to be hired, advertising needed to squeeze in last-minute ads, the ombud was looking for responses to complaints, lawyers were at the door, reporters wanted to know why their stories had been cut or badly subbed – in other words situation normal on a big metro daily.
The man on the phone was Iqbal Survé, the executive chairman of Independent Media. I’d met him a couple of times before, we’d chatted, but never about career prospects.