How the world cup came to redefine the Daily Dispatch


The 2010 FIFA World Cup threw up some formidable obstacles for editor Andrew Trench and his team at East London daily, the Daily Dispatch (owned by Avusa Media).
Port Elizabeth, whose stadium played host to a number of world cup games, rests on the edge of the newspaper’s circulation footprint, and is also the home of rival The Herald (also published by Avusa). Residents of East London felt a keen sense of disappointment after having had to witness Buffalo City Municipality’s flopped attempts to try and lure a world cup team to use the city as a base says, says Trench.

Trench decided his city needed to capture some “gees”, and that his paper and his community needed to find a way of tapping into positive mood around the world cup enjoyed by most South Africans.

In an editorial to readers, Trench outlined his editorial vision for his paper during the cup. “Readers who haven’t been living on Mars the last couple of weeks will have noticed an unusually patriotic tone to the Dispatch in our coverage, columns and commentary around the world cup,” Trench wrote on his blog. “This is entirely deliberate I must confess. I have been curious to see how readers respond to such an approach.”

Trench is the first to admit that it “takes a lot for journalists to put their natural cynicism to one side and to wave a flag for their country and not all my colleagues are entirely comfortable with this.”

While some in the media may take issue with Trench’s stance strategically, it does make a lot of sense, as Trench takes time to explain below. He also explains why the world cup should serve as a wake-up call for South African media in finding new relevance and hope in the communities it serves.

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