Editor quits after banning row

Emirates Evening Post editor Bikram Vohra has quit the fledgling afternoon newspaper after a row with its owner over imposing work bans and editorial “encroachment”.

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By  Tim Addington Published  September 4, 2005

Emirates Evening Post editor Bikram Vohra has quit the fledgling afternoon newspaper after a row with its owner over imposing work bans and editorial “encroachment”. Vohra claims his decision to walk out on the paper he launched in February this year came when a sub editor and designer were given six-month work bans by the Evening Post’s publishers, Press Centre & Art Productions, despite public statements from him that no staff would face bans if they left. Vohra said: “I had done interviews in print and on radio saying that we would be a newspaper that didn’t ban journalists, we would be a journalist’s newspaper. It worked for four months. “Two journalists were banned so I decided if I couldn’t keep my word I’d walk out, however pompous that sounds. If editors say these things, we must stand by them. “I committed myself that journalists would not get a six-month ban, they would be free to come and go. Yet I couldn’t deliver.” He said that the newspaper’s owner refused to provide letters of no objection for the two staff who left, effectively making it impossible for them to work elsewhere for six months. The editor, who has held senior positions at all of the UAE’s English language dailies during his 20 years in Dubai, says he also fell out with the Evening Post’s owner Qassim Mohammed over editorial interference. “I didn’t like the encroachments on editorial,” Vohra said. “I have got this mania about maintaining the integrity of editorial. If you don’t put down parameters, you are going to get trampled on.” Vohra refused to go into specific details on the areas of editorial intrusion, but added: “They are all little niggles, there is nothing you can make into a major issue, but collectively you suddenly find that the aircraft has a broken wing and you can’t mend it.” Asked if he left the newspaper on bad terms, he said: “It was certainly not pleasant.” But Mohammed denied Vohra’s claims, saying the editor walked out of the newspaper without telling him and alleging he encouraged others to leave as well. “There was no editorial interference of any kind,” said Mohammed. “He left without informing me. He also called a meeting at his house, telling staff to leave the company.” The Evening Post, which has a small staff of 28 and a claimed print-run of just 28,000, is the region’s first afternoon daily newspaper. Critics have attacked it for its brash broadsheet design and poor distribution. The Evening Post’s news editor, KSR Menon, has taken over the day-to-day running of the paper, while a new editor is sought.

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