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New Vision sacks top editor in ‘silent mode’ over cash-for-story

Ten years ago, the same editor was suspended for taking money to run stories in New Vision

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KAMPALA – A cash-for-story scheme that backfired and caused The New Vision embarrassment has seen to the sacking of a top editor at New Vision, Crime24 has learnt.

The editor, whose identity this news website will not reveal to maintain their face, has already been replaced at his desk, sources said.

Crime24 understands Vision Group treated the matter from under thick woolen carpets to limit damages but decided that the editor leaves in silent mode without raising any suspicion on whether he was being sacked or just headed for greener pastures.

Kabushenga storms newsroom

According to a source familiar with the backstory of the sacking, the editor, who has previously been in trouble with management over similar cash-for-story schemes, found himself in trouble after being convinced that one of the subjects of a Vision Group-organised award was a winner-in-waiting and promptly moved to mint from them.

“About 10 years ago, the same editor was suspended while editing a different content for which the editor had sought financial gains from subjects of a story,” a source wrote to Crime24.

“At the time, one of the senior editors from the same section had just been sacked over cash-for-story-related issues and with this latest victim being suspended, the editorial management couldn’t find immediate replacement.”

The source, a former news reporter at the Industrial Area-based newsroom, said a journalist who acting for the suspended editor had turned down the job offer, saying they were not ready to commit to a desk job. With their options limited, Vision reluctantly recalled the editor from suspension.

But there was no less learnt, apparently, as the latest episode suggests.

This time round, convinced that a finalist had won it, the editor had the finalist pay to be flagged on the cover as a winner in the run up to the awards weekend.

The finalist was just too happy with the news to refuse to pay some money in exchange for the coverage. But the gods of extortion journalism were not on the editor’s side this time as the committee had chosen someone else without his knowledge.

“Alarm bells started tolling when a different person was announced as the winner and the finalist who had rolled their sleeves to release cash right from interview level and publishing articles to the flagging incident, was too aggrieved to just let things down,” the source said.

According to the backstory, the aggrieved stormed Vision chief executive Robert Kabushenga’s office and narrated of how they had been played out of their hard-earned cash.

Kabushenga didn’t even waste time and ordered an investigation into the suspected extortion.The editorial management sent the editor on forced leave.

What happened next was shocking. Several reporters came forward to testify against the editor, lamenting of how they had to pay to have their stories run. Others accused the editor of calling their sources to ask for money.

Like in 2009, the editors debated what to do with one of their own. Even by the time the editor returned from forced leave, there was still not definite decision. Until Kigali happened.

“The availability of [Arthur] Baguma meant the editors had seen what to do with their colleague whose reputation was dented,” the source said.

Barbara Kaija, the Vision Group editor in chief, didn’t waste time in convincing Baguma to return to Vision Group where he has been deployed as a contributing editor to replace the outgoing veteran.

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