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.
The launch issue of NewsNow/NuusNou has hit the newsstands. The new weekly, published by Media24 Magazines, publishes on Fridays and retails at R20.
Any new weekly print product means serious money invested, even if, as in the case of NewsNow, content gets aggregated from various sources by a handful of editors, minimising investment in content.