Troubled newspaper suspends operations

MASERU — A local newspaper, The Guardian, has folded after only two weeks on the streets due to financial problems, the Lesotho Times has learnt.

The weekly broadsheet shut down operations after publishing only two issues since it started publishing on June 1.

Printing of the newspaper was suspended this week amid speculation that Intelserv, the company which publishes The Guardian, was in financial doldrums.

The Intelserv news website had also been inaccessible for several weeks prior to the closure of The Guardian, raising fears that it has also shut down.

The company in April told its employees to take pay cuts or resign as it was not making enough money after advertisers pulled out in droves, a source said.

“Advertisers with Intelserv website pulled out while prospective clients refused to be associated with the weekly newspaper due to its poor quality. This has put immense pressure on the publisher,” the source said.

“The publisher was left with no choice but to take the bold move of shutting down the newspaper.”

A source at the newspaper told the Lesotho Times that The Guardian’s chief executive officer, Tabo Foulo, told staff last week that he was suspending the publication of the newspaper until October.

“We had a meeting last week on Friday where Mr Foulo told us that operations will be suspended until October to give him a chance to recover financially,” the source said.

Another meeting between Intelserv employees and Foulo held yesterday afternoon failed to come up with an alternative solution to the crisis facing the media house.

“During today’s meeting, the proprietor had still not come up with a viable solution. This has angered a lot of people, especially senior staff members,” the source said.

Intelserv employees who spoke to the Lesotho Times on condition of anonymity said that it was unfortunate that the company was closing down without a promise to give employees severance packages.

Foulo has told employees that “Intelserv is totally broke”, according to one employee.

Dozens of journalists and advertising staff are set to be stranded as the company said it will not be paying salaries until it resumes operations.

“He is unable to pay us even a little to keep us going until things get back to normal. We all feel cheated because we saw it coming but decided to give Mr Foulo a chance,” he said.

Foulo could not be reached for comment as both his Lesotho and South African mobile numbers were not available.

Attempts to locate him at the Intelserv offices at his LNDC Centre offices in Maseru were also not successful.

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