Media Report: Chris Roper on marketing, the media, and its co-dependency
a The Media Report 2014 interview. Chris Roper, editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, answers questions about editorial independence, honest information and offers deep insight into the M&G brand and future trajectory.
Who are you and what do you do?
Chris Roper: I am Chris Roper, the editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian. I’m responsible both for editorial strategy, and for new business development as it relates to our content platforms.
How would you describe the Mail & Guardian to someone who’s never read it before?
CR: M&G is a fiercely independent, multi-platform news offering specialising in investigative and political journalism.
Why should brands advertise in the Mail & Guardian?
CR: M&G readers, across all platforms, are people who make a difference in South Africa and Africa. They’re critical, yet optimistic, and are highly educated business people, academics, politicians and thought leaders.
What should marketers know about the fight to free information in South Africa? What role has the Mail & Guardian played in this fight?
CR: Crucially, marketers should know that if freedom of information is curtailed, it won’t only be bad for civil society, it’ll be bad for business as well. Capitalism doesn’t thrive in a restricted society. The M&G has been at the forefront in the fight to limit some of the restrictions of the pending Secrecy Bill.
Why is media independence important?
CR: An independent media is the watchdog for civil society and democracy. Without an independent media, citizens of a country can have their access to honest information compromised.
What role has the Mail & Guardian played in promoting democracy in South Africa? Why is this relevant to marketers?
CR: M&G played an important role in providing important information in the fight against apartheid, and continues to provide the important information necessary to keep democracy transparent. Why is this relevant to marketers? Well, there are at least two reasons. Assuming marketers are human (which we do, of course), one imagines they’d prefer living in a free democracy. But a more industry-specific answer would be that marketers are in an industry that is as creative as journalism, an industry that is also about the dissemination of information. Like journalists, they rely on democratic freedoms to be able to do their job.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
CR: Perhaps just that these questions have made me think about the interrelationship between marketing and the media, and it’s clear that we are more co-dependent than we possibly realise.
What are Mail & Guardians vital statistics — those numbers marketers most need to know about? While you’re at it, tell us a little more about your readers.
CR: Here are our readership stats for August. For print, 54% of our readers have some form of tertiary education, 29% are in the 35 – 50 year-old age bracket, 76% are black, 16% white, and 77% of them are in LSM 7-10. Our online readers are, as you might expect, varied, with, for example, 20% being 15-24, 31% 25-34, 29% 35-50, and 20% 50+.
Visuals used are licensed through Creative Commons. Attribution and gratitude go to: Reporters Without Borders and the Give Dictators The Finger campaign; r2hox, who documents urban and street art; Rebel Mouse Digital artist, Surian Soosay; Khalid Albaih, founder of Freestock.ca; Nicolas Raymond, print buyer, and photographer, Karen Roe; photographer SandisterTei; and author, scientist and occasional photographer, Duncan Hull.
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