.... over new gagging rule. Tension has gripped some staff of the Graphic Communications Group over a new code of conduct called 'Journalists Standards and Practices' that some staff and reporters of the organization see as a direct attempt to gag them.
The Heritage can authoritatively report at least 10 of the reporters this paper spoke to on Tuesday, a few hours before production time said if the new policy comes into force they would have no alternative than to resign from the paper and continue their life somewhere else.
The striking portion of the document available to this reporter indicates that no journalist working for the company can work for any other organization, either on full time or part time basis.
Therefore, employees who are bent on attending talk show programmes on radio and TV would have to give up their jobs at Graphic.
According to the report: 'Employees may not work, on a paid or unpaid basis, for organizations considered by the company to be in competition, or on outside projects that are known at the time of participation to be intended for use by competing organizations'.
'Specifically, employees shall not work on regular period basis for, or contribute to host moderate programmes for other media organizations'. ' In exceptional circumstances, management may authorize such outside work if there is a recognizable benefit to the company. For example, employees skill improvement or enhancement of the company's image in the community', says the report.
This part of the report would block journalists from attending discussion and talk shows.
The report says that 'employees may not trade in their positions in or their connections with the company for private or personal gains except in situations for which they have obtained prior approval,' the report further stated.
According to the report, 'employees may not perform services related to their professional or cooperate specialty for any outside individual or company without approval by the appropriate manager.'
Continuing, the report says 'in any outside employment or activity, employees may not act as a representatives of a spokespersons for the company unless they have obtained prior approval from their superior'.
In an interview on Tuesday, public affairs director of the Graphic, Albert Sam confirmed the existence of such a report but said it is part of the organization's move towards raising the standard of journalistic practice.
He said the workers themselves drafted the proposal and both the management and the board are yet to approve it.
He said, there is no way the organization would allow its staff to go to any organization when they are supposed to be carrying out their duties.