SENIOR journalist has been suspended concerning allegations that he tried to moonlight for con• troversial bus operator SA Road- link for a monthly retainer and then do an exposé on the company when his attempt failed.
The free-to-air channel’s sports editor Robin Adams wrote to Carmen Green, an SA Roadlink official, proposing “good marketing! publicity concepts to suit (and boost)” SA Roadilink’s business. For an unspecified monthly retainer as a consultant, Adams wanted to assist in advertising campaigns (electronic and print), strategic branding and marketing opportunities.

Yesterday, all spokesperson Vassii Vaas could say was that Adams had been suspended and that the matter was being investigated. It could not be established whether Adams had made the offer to work for Roadlink in exchange for quashing the exposé.

This week, SA Roadlink took the the channel to the South Gauteng High Court demanding right of reply on Adams’ story. They eventually settled out of court and the story was flighted this week, said a source close to the matter.

Adams’ story was on SA Road- link’s spate of fatal accidents, and its allegedly underpaid and overworked drivers.

Adams cited SA Roadlink’s lack of positive coverage in the media as one reason for moonlighting. In emails Adams sent in November, he asked to meet Green if his proposal interested SA Roadlink. “I have some good ideas to help contribute to your turnaround strategy for SA Roadlink,” he wrote on November 10.

Adams eventually met Green on November 11 and the next day wrote an email saying SA Road- link’s slogan, “Your Link to Affordable Travel”, was old and tired.

He said it was time for a new company slogan and promised something catchy, fresh and original. “I have a few in mind that I think are golden. Are you keen for a turnaround in publicity?” Adams asked.

In the same week SA Roadlink took a one-page advert in a daily newspaper, but Adams noted that “the ad failed to achieve its goal”.

“Are people still talking about your one-page ad today? I don’t think so!” he declared.

He suggested a well thought-out, catchy advertising campaign to revamp SA Roadlink’s publicity campaign.

“If, for example, you had a full page advert with a voucher entitling Bheki Cele (who publicly called your buses ‘cofFins on wheels’) to travel on any of your coaches for free to experience the luxury and comfort,” Adams wrote.

He said through this Cele would get first-hand experience of how safe SA Roadlink’s bu were and that it would get people talking.

“People need to be talkthg about SA Roadlink in a positive way,” he wrote. “Are you keen for a turnaround in publicity? If your answer is YES, then let’s get started,” he wrote.

SA Roadlink spokesperson Lumka Oliphant thanked for taking action against Adams, saying this showed they practised what they preached.

Source: City Press – Loyiso Sidimba