by Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) Tim du Plessis, Media24’s head of Afrikaans newspapers, retired at the end of May 2014. He has had a remarkable career that has seen him edit three newspapers — Rapport, Beeld and The Citizen — as well as time as deputy editor of City Press. Grubstreet spoke to Du Plessis about his plans for the future, the challenges of editing newspapers in a tough market and reporting on the Afrikaans community’s move to the new South Africa.
by Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) For the past couple of years — and especially last year as the health of Nelson Mandela health steadily deteriorated — South Africa’s editors waited, prepared and planned for when the father of the nation would pass on. Still, most were dreading it because they knew it would be one of the most challenging, extraordinary stories of our time.
by Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) It must surely be South Africa’s longest-running celebrity story: Joost van der Westhuizen and the great highs and lows of his extraordinary life.
Back in the news again recently with an exposé of his “healer” and news that he is fighting to stop the publication of a book by former Rapport celebrity reporter Gavin Prins about his life, Van der Westhuizen has fascinated the South African public for more than decade – and certainly helped the sales of magazines such as Huisgenoot and Afrikaans papers such as Rapport.
They started on the same day – June 1 this year – and that’s not the only similarity between Waldimar Pelser, the new editor of Rapport, and Bongani Siqoko, editor of the Daily Dispatch.
Both are young editors and are former news editors; both have studied in the UK (Pelser at the elite Oxford University). Both men are very much of their communities and have all sorts of interesting things up their sleeves.
Crucially, both must try grow circulation in this toughest of times in the newspaper industry.
For Pelser, who has been both a foreign correspondent covering Africa and the news editor of Beeld, that means achieving a balance between having stories that are of interest to readers and those that are in the public interest – and not forgetting about reputation and premium-quality journalism packages.
“Circulation is never the only thing one chases,” he told Grubstreet. “Of course, it pays our salaries and we constantly have to find and organically develop new markets. But if it were the only thing that mattered, you would put on the front page that which aims squarely at the lowest common denominator – and probably push up nudity and sex and alarmist politics. But none of these things, we believe, is really in the interest of our readers or journalism as a trade on even the future of democracy.
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The glossy Sunday read launched by City Press in October 2011, i, will be distributed nationally from this Sunday (June 3). The magazine was previously only distributed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – two key growth markets for the paper.
Rapport has followed the path set out by City Press late last year by awarding its magazine supplement, My Tyd, to content marketing firm New Media.
The retweet didn’t kill the newsman, after all. As it turns out, the growth of Twitter simply reiterates the essential role of journalists in sifting through and filtering the rumour mill that hangs around the neck of the information economy. And a good thing it is, too.
After jumping from the 5th to the 1st spot on Mark’s Twitter News Ranking Index MyNews24 not only maintained its position but grew its number of followers by more than 450. Radio 702 continued its surge up our rankings from 4th position to 2nd place though in terms of the number of followers it’s not yet seriously challenging MyNews24 for the top spot.
Twitter, the popular micro-blogging service, isn’t being utilised properly by South African newspaper publishers. Internationally Twitter is being used by media organisations as diverse as CNN and the NYTimes to push breaking news to subscribers. Big name local brands such as The Star, Beeld, Die Burger, the Cape Times, the Sowetan and others are still missing in action. So which South African newspapers make use of Twitter?