Long-time Daily Sun editor, Themba Khumalo, has resigned, the tabloid newspaper announced today. Khumalo, who has been working at the successful daily for over six years, leaves to pursue business interests, but will remain a contributor to the Daily Sun and the Sunday Sun.
General manager Minette Ferreira told TheMediaOnline that Khumalo had wanted to leave for “quite some time” but with the unexpected death of publisher Deon du Plessis, had “stayed on for a bit”.
“But we’re keeping him close,” says Ferreira. “He will be continuing as a columnist on the Daily Sun and will be writing a new column for the Sunday paper, for at least six to 12 months. He leaves at the end of November and will have December to spend with his family.”
Ferreira says the hunt for a new editor was launched today, with an internal advertisement, and she will be running ads in the Sunday papers too. “Hopefully we’ll have a new editor starting in January,” she says. Ferreira also confirmed that Riekie Greyling will be taking over as managing editor of both Sun titles.
The editor will have to be “a very special person”, Ferreira says. “The Daily Sun really has unique style and feel and we want to continue that. We don’t want to change it. It has a heartbeat and a soul. Many of the staff have been here for over five years, they’ve grown up under the tutelage of Deon and Themba. It’s what makes it work.”
Ferreira says that despite the loss in circulation the paper suffered during these tough times, the Daily Sun is “still far ahead”.
“But it’s about coming back,” she says. “And the leadership of the new editor will be key to this. Our readers might have stopped reading it on a daily basis, but they’re still buying several copies a week, and perhaps sharing on the days they don’t buy it.
“Even so, we increased the cover price from R2.30 to R2.50 at the beginning of October. We expected a drop of between 5% and 8% as is normal with price increases, but we haven’t seen that happen, which is good news. In fact, in the first week, we went back to over 400 000 sales so we’re quite confident,” Ferreira says.
She says she hears there is “a bit of a price war with street sales” but is adamantly opposed to discounting the street sale price. “We’ll never enter a price war. We come off a low base so have a good value proposition. We’ve also increased the price of the Sunday Sun from R4.20 to R4.95, which is an aggressive increase. But the paper has shown great resilience and is maintaining sales at around 220 000.”
Ferreira says it’s been a “tough” year for the Sun papers, especially “losing Deon and Themba leaving” but that “new blood” to the paper is a positive thing.