Business journalism has been ‘reshaped’ to reflect two major trends in the sector: the privatization of market analysis and investment, and the online commodification of company news and data.
So says Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail & Guardian, which has announced a revamp of its business offering. “In between this limited distribution, high-end and zero-value added mass distribution data is the space in which news organisations find themselves. For many it is a bewildering place to be. At the Mail & Guardian we believe it is a place of rich opportunity,” says Dawes.
The newspaper has expanded it’s business section – to 12-16 pages – and website in order to position the paper, M&G Business, as “Africa’s best business read”. It also recently launched an app available for download for iPad.
“The business section won’t try to tell you which stocks to buy, or pretend it is news to you that headline earnings per share on a blue chip company are up 12 cents. What it will do, is offer you real insight into the South African, regional, and global business story,” Dawes says.
This means reporting on what Dawes calls the “real economy” – logistics, communications, mining, agriculture, engineering. He says the titles business journalists will “ask interesting questions, and answer them through the in-depth reporting that is the hallmark of the Mail & Guardian. We will turn our political insight toward the regulatory environment and the political economy, reporting not just what people in high office say, but what is driving policy, and how it is playing out on the ground”.
“Real intelligence isn’t about headline numbers, it is about drilling deep into the data, talking to the people at the coalface, and combining journalistic skepticism with an explorer’s enthusiasm,” says Dawes. “That is what we plan to offer, hour by hour online, and each week in the newspaper. There is no bigger story.”
Anastacia Martin, publisher of the Mail & Guardian adds: “The market for business news and information has changed dramatically in the past decade and we recognized the need to include Business in our mix for our influential readers. We were able to build our new business model across multiple platforms to deliver vital business news 24/7. Our business content is presented with the same analytical, in-depth and relevant fine journalism that is the hall mark of the Mail & Guardian.”
While newspaper circulations are declining, the M&G has bucked the trend, showing a sales jump of 10 percent, year on year. The M&G currently speaks to more than 1-million print, online and tablet readers who are South Africa’s decision makers in Business, Government, Academia and NGOs.
“Our readers truly represent the demographics of our country with 80% black, 20% white and nearly 40% of our readers emerging from women in leadership positions,” says Martin.
Some of the new regular features in the bigger, bolder business section are:
- The Big Interview: an interview with a CEO or newsmaker/deal maker on the big issues and trends in a specific sector
- The African economy and companies
- Investment (company analysis and sector comparisons)
- Analysis of the global economy or market events
- Digital Life
- On the ground features of the real economy, including the global economy
- Agent provocateur: a column