Nic Dawes on the biggest challenges of being the M&G editor

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes is off to India in September, when he will take up one of the top positions at the Hindustan Times in New Delhi, it was announced recently. In this second part of an interview, Grubstreet talks to Dawes about change in the M&G newsroom, his legacy to the paper and the press’ recent battles with the ruling party.

Grubstreet: Do you think the converged newsroom – how you’ve integrated print and online – is the main mark that you’re leaving on the M&G?

Nic Dawes: I certainly think it’s probably the most obvious thing that I’ve tried to do here – to bring some of those (online and social-media) practices into our newsroom, to open us up so that the audience is not so much the audience anymore but participants in what we do.

You have to be really very sanguine and welcome the changes that are going on in our industry because I think they genuinely make us better journalists and make us produce better news products.

I think the other thing is the way we’ve tried to build capacity inside the paper, to keep on doing more thorough public-interest journalism without having new sources of commercial funding. So there’s AmaBhungane (non-profit investigative centre) and the Eugene Saldanha fellowship – these sorts of things, which do substantially broaden the base of what we do and also makes a contribution that goes beyond the M&G in terms of training journalists from other papers and from other countries in terms of advocacy.

And maybe the final thing is opening up a bit more to Africa – trying to bring more Africa coverage into the paper and into the website.

Digital growth for the Mail & Guardian

A short while back Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes told Grubstreet that the paper’s website was doing very well – with its traffic up by about 40% over the past year.

“We’re rolling out new products,” Dawes said in February this year. “We’re spending money on growing a digital business and our online traffic was up 40% last year. We sell something like 1500 iPad editions and approaching 3000 Kindle. So we’re growing and things are happening.”

That’s great news from the tough little paper that has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It is, in fact, one of the few in SA to have stable or rising circulation so it’s heart warming to hear that M&G online is also growing – especially in a market dominated by the giant News24. Grubstreet tracked down M&G online editor Chris Roper to find out more the website’s fortunes.

World cup: newspaper editors innovate amid circulation decline

The 2010 FIFA World Cup has been the biggest South African news story so far this year. The tournament dominated media coverage over several months, both in the build-up to and during the actual event. Newspapers sat between a rock and a hard place during the world cup, as television ruled with its live broadcasts and online was first with live commentary, opinion and blow-by blow recounts.

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist