Short stories in the ‘appointments’ sections of Beeld and Die Burger newspapers on Friday rang news of changes within publishing giant Media24’s newspaper division. Firstly, Beeld has a new editor in the form of Peet Kruger, currently editor on Finweek. Long-term Beeld editor, Tim du Plessis, is the head of Media24 Afrikaans titles, a position that comes into effect on July 1, 2011. And Rapport editor, Liza Albrecht, will be taking on the new role of head of digital for the Afrikaans titles.
Just who will be editor of Rapport is still to be announced.
“We have made some structural changes within our newspaper division but nothing dramatic,” said CEO, Esmare Weideman. “It was done to streamline the management structure. Before, our hierarchies were quite ‘deep’, meaning that the reporting lines were overly complicated and not conducive to dynamic decision-making.
“In the new structure, this has been simplified. This is not a restructuring and not motivated by cost cutting. It’s a process that has been ongoing for a while and we have now finalised a structure we believe to be tighter and more organised and which will allow the voices of the editors to be heard more quickly than before,” she told TheMediaOnline.
Weideman said Media24 Magazines went through a similar process last year, with “very positive results”.
But it’s a change of strategic direction in terms of how Media24 sees its newspaper titles that is most interesting. As Weideman said, what was once seen as the ‘emerging’ market is now THE market.
“We have regrouped our newspapers into two groupings – Afrikaans titles and English titles. This means we are moving away from the ‘emerging markets’ name and the reason for this is quite simple. Emerging markets is no longer an appropriate title for this very important newspaper sector. The so-called ‘emerging market’ IS the market. Daily Sun is by far the biggest daily in the country. To classify this massive daily readership as ‘emerging’ is outdated and not in keeping with the changing demographics of newspaper readers,” she said.
With the digital market taking increasing importance, moving Albrecht to head up that division should be seen as “strategic”, Weideman said.
“We have put a focused plan in place for the digital future of our newspapers. Liza Albrecht moves into the strategically crucial position as head of digital for the Afrikaans titles.
“South African newsrooms need to transform themselves quickly to adapt to the digital age, and Liza has the digital savvy and appetite, as well as the management qualifications, to lead this transformation,” Weideman explained.
She added that 24.com, which is part of Media24’s newspaper division, “will continue to focus on breaking news, through News24, as well as the development of mobile applications and other digital products”.
Weideman said Albrecht would be moving to her new position once a replacement has been found at Rapport and that “we are currently looking at candidates for this position”.