We believe in paying tribute to those who excel and we make a point of noticing the leaders among us. We know that it takes more than just hard work to be a leader and to be powerful in the media industry. And to do so before your 40th birthday says a great deal about you and your career.
Why choose 40 as the cut-off age, you may ask? For the first 25 years of your life, you are learning and only then do you start to become a contributing member of society. So, if within the next 15 years you can become one of the most powerful and influential people in the media industry, you deserve to be recognised.
This is not just about media owners: it covers everyone in the industry, from media strategists, planners and media sales folk, to journalists and cartoonists, among others. And for you to make the list, we consider everything from the amount of money you can generate, the influence you have over the public, your ability to get the most out of your team or simply having a nose for a great story and the ability to uncover information that others can’t.
The criteria for making the list are simple: the person nominated has to be making a real difference in the industry and, if they were listed last year, they also needed to have improved their track record in the last 12 months to remain on the list.
Almost 200 people were nominated this year and we had a tough task researching and checking out each one to establish exactly who were in the top 40 under 40 in the media industry.
We didn’t ensure we had a correct percentage of people according to race or gender. We looked for those who had the most influence among the nominees.
Here are the people we believe are the 40 most powerful and influential people under the age of 40 in our industry. Congratulations! We salute you!
MELINI MOSES. Senior reporter and news anchor at SABC. Age: 32
“Melini Moses is a multi-award-winning radio reporter and probably one of the few radio reporters who do old-style sound reporting,” says City Press editor Ferial Haffajee.
Moses is an exceptional journalist with a penchant for investigative journalism, storytelling and having the edge on the story of the day.
Since 2008, she has also been a freelance news anchor on SAfm and Radio 2000.
In 2012, she was selected to go the the United States on a World Press Institute fellowship. In 2010, she was awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship to report from the United Nations in New York for three months.
Among her many awards, in 2011 she won the CNN Africa Radio Journalist of the Year Award and the National Press Club Journalist of the Year Radio Award.
Unique: In her free time Moses does ballroom dancing and is a wedding photographer.
JEREMY ‘JERM’ NELL. Cartoonist at Eyewitness News. Age: 33
Jeremy Nell has recently been dubbed the enfant terrible of local political caricature and looks set to unseat the inimitable Zapiro. This growing respect for his ascerbic cartoons comes after only six years as a cartoonist.
Nell is the creator of the syndicated daily newspaper comic strip ‘The Biggish Five’. His political cartoons for The New Age are what put him on the map and being “let go” by its management (for not being “aligned” with the newspaper’s vision) made people notice him.
With his sights on digital media, Nell took up Primedia Broadcasting’s offer of being the first Eyewitness News cartoonist. His twice weekly cartoons now appear on the EWN website and are discussed on air.
In 2011 he won Cartoonist of the Year in the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.
Unique: Nell listens to the Sex Pistols and Beastie Boys while he’s creating cartoons.
ELTON OLLERHEAD. Managing director at Mediamark. Age: 38
Elton Ollerhead’s career marks a successful track record of business
development, media sales and commercialisation within digital advertising channels for various multi-national companies (media owners, data and retail).
In 2012, Ollerhead was appointed MD of Mediamark. With his significant understanding of consumer data and insights he has, in less than 10 months, launched the Mediamark brand (a specialist media solutions company comprising Mediamark Radio, Mediamark Digital, Mediamark Events and Mediamark TV) and brought in the digital sales business.
Unique: Ollerhead is a sports fanatic who can be seen out on the roads around Johannesburg on a bicycle or running at any opportunity.
VERASHNI PILLAY. Deputy editor of the Mail & Guardian Online. Age: 29
Within a month of Verashni Pillay being employed as an online journalist at the Mail & Guardian in 2009, she was promoted to managing editor. One year later she became the deputy editor.
“Verashni is animated by the idea that we do better journalism through social media and high levels of engagement with … the audience,” says M&G editor Nic Dawes. “Marry that attitude to strong commitment to social justice and you have the kind of digital news practitioner South Africa needs right now.”
Pillay has overseen more than 30% growth on the website in her three years of managing it. She implemented a host of new online projects, like online offerings to complement the newspaper flagships and a blogging site aimed at women readers.
She directed a multi-media video that won the 2012 CNN Africa Journalism digital award.
Unique: Pillay is one of 76 women on Michelle Obama’s Young African Women Leaders Forum.
SEAN PRESS. CEO of Contact Media and Communications. Age: 32
Sean Press founded Contact Media and Communications in 2007, a publishing house that produces four successful custom magazine titles. He has launched 15 titles over the last 10 years.
Under his leadership in 2012, his company increased turnover by 40% and the staff contingent doubled. He successfully launched two new titles, onRoute and Spotong, and will be launching the Nepad 2013 Annual in March 2013. This will bring the number of Contact Media magazines to six, including Afropolitan and The Wits Business School Journal.
“Sean’s credibility and enthusiasm sets him apart from other media leaders… he sets the benchmark among like-minded specialists and is a role model to aspiring persons in the industry,” says one of his clients.
Unique: Press likes all the canned labels in his grocery cupboard to face the same way and his shirts and T-shirts to be arranged from darkest to lightest.
JULIAN RADEMEYER. Investigative journalist and author. Age: 37
Julian Rademeyer is an award-winning investigative journalist who has covered some of the world’s toughest conflicts. He helped set up Media24’s Investigations Unit.
In his nearly 20-year career, he has written and worked for various local and international newspapers and news agencies. He has won numerous awards.
His work has been published in two books: ‘Troublemakers: The Best of South Africa’s Investigative Journalism’ and the ‘BY Bedkassieboek’, a compilation of the best of Afrikaans journalism.
Until recently he was chief reporter for Media24 Investigations, but resigned to complete his book on rhino horn syndicates, ‘Killing For Profit’ which was released in November 2012 to great acclaim.
Unique: Rademeyer appeared briefly in ‘The Bang Bang Club’ movie, which was released in 2011.
JULIE REID. Media analyst and academic at Unisa. Age: 33
Dr Julie Reid is a respected media analyst and academic at the Department of Communication Science at the University of South Africa (Unisa). She is deputy president of the South African Communications Association.
She is project leader for the Media Policy and Democracy Project, an inter-university research initiative to investigate and promote participatory media policy-making in the public interest.
Reid is a vocal activist for media and press freedom, and a working member of the Right2Know Campaign.
Says Kate Skinner, former SOS: Support Public Broadcasting co-ordinator, “She is an activist media academic – a rare breed of person! She doesn’t sit in an ivory tower. During 2012, she did amazing work for the R2K Campaign. She believes in media transformation for citizens’ empowerment.”
Unique: Reid adores riding motorcycles over the speed limit.
SEAMUS REYNOLDS. Channel news editor at eNCA. Age: 36
Seamus Reynolds is responsible for the editorial content of the 24-hour news at eNCA. In August 2012, the channel launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland, reaching over 10 million homes in this market. He was directly involved in the channel rebrand and behind its on air implementation.
“Seamus has been a key member of the eNCA team since we launched in 2008, and one of the unsung heroes of our success,” says eNCA group head of news, Patrick Conroy. “His organisational skills have been invaluable. He knows how to give orders and how to carry them out, but he is no pushover.”
Reynolds has produced two award-winning documentaries and produced numerous feature and investigative inserts for Carte Blanche.
Unique: While sailing the Cape to Rio race in 1995, Reynolds decided to give up a potential career in the computer industry for journalism.
MANDY ROSSOUW. Media24 group international correspondent and EWN senior political reporter. Age: 33
Mandy Rossouw is an astute political journalist who is often asked to feature on local and international television and radio talk shows.
She writes for News24, City Press, Beeld and Die Burger. She previously served as Media24’s foreign correspondent in London but returned to South Africa in 2006 to be the Mail & Guardian’s deputy political editor. In 2011, she rejoined Media24 in this position.
She is a Menell fellow at Duke University in North Carolina and a guest lecturer in politics and journalism at Duke and a number of South African universities.
In 2012 she wrote ‘Mangaung: Kings and Kingmakers’ about the ANC’s political dynamics ahead of the Mangaung conference. She also co-authored ‘The World According to Julius Malema’ about the expelled ANC Youth League leader.
Unique: Rossouw is a keen wine connoisseur with a soft spot for sparkling wine.
[Note: Mandy Rossouw sadly died on 10 March.]
WADIM SCHREINER. Founder and shareholder of Media Tenor South Africa. Age: 38
Wadim Schreiner started Media Tenor, a media analysis company, in 2000 with one computer and subscriptions to newspapers. He had R10 000 in savings to start the company.
In the last 13 years, the company has grown and is very successful. They have trained, coached and educated over 100 people.
Now Schreiner is handing over his tasks to a new managing director. He will remain a shareholder and continue to work with Media Tenor on the business side.
In 2012 Schreiner set up operations in Australia. He also developed a methodology for social media to track what people think about cities and countries. Although the methodology is still being refined, it has been positively received in Europe, and Schreiner is currently responding to proposals.
Unique: A total news junkie, Schreiner checks his iPhone every five minutes for messages, updated news and current affairs.
ODETTE SCHWEGLER. Investigative television journalist. Age: 35
Odette Schwegler is a multi award-wining journalist whose ‘behind-the-scenes’ investigations on M-Net’s Carte Blanche have exposed government corruption, child abuse and environmental crimes.
She has been a freelance producer for Carte Blanche since 1999 and has researched, directed and produced over 100 mini-documentaries.
Says Jessica Pitchford, Carte Blanche managing editor, “Odette is an accomplished journalist with a meticulous track record in research and production. She has been behind some of Carte Blanche’s most important investigative stories… She is able to tell the South African story with pathos and humour and is undoubtedly one of our top television journalists.”
Schwegler has won more than 14 prestigious awards for her work.
Unique: Schwegler is mother to four children.
DARREN ‘WHACKHEAD’ SIMPSON. 94.7 Highveld Stereo presenter. Age: 34
In 2010, when the popular Jeremy Mansfield left Breakfast Express, 94.7 Highveld Stereo’s morning show, pundits predicted it would lose its audience with Darren Simpson at the helm.
Although the show’s rating dipped temporarily, it soon skyrocketed. In 2012, the station hit the 1.5 million listeners mark for the first time, of which the revamped Breakfast Xpress contributed almost 900 000, making it Highveld’s most successful show.
Simpson is well known for his hugely popular ‘Whackhead’ on-air telephone pranks. He also performs stand-up comedy and hosted the recent 46664 ‘It’s no Joke’comedy shows.
His TV career has been as successful with appearances on SABC 3’s Comedy Showcase, SABC1’s Pure Monate as a sketch actor, The Late Show with Darren Scott, Clipz, Prankz and Laugh out Loud, all on M-Net.
Unique: As of January this year, Whackhead had 71 320 Twitter followers.
GARY STROEBEL. CEO of Central Media Group. Age: 39
Gary Stroebel is CEO of the Central Media Group (CMG is now the holding company of OFM). Stroebel succeeded in his strategy to take over OFM radio station four-and-half years ago. That was to develop a multi-media, full-service advertising solution for local advertisers.
From its origins as a radio station, CMG now includes a print business publishing a number of newspapers and magazines; a digital marketing and web development business doing work for other media companies; and a talent identification company. In this, Stroebel has created central South Africa’s biggest media company and all the business units are now profitable.
Unique: In his spare time Stroebel is a rugby commentator on Radio 2000. He loves being able to talk for 80 minutes with no-one interrupting him.
REDI TLHABI. Talk Radio 702 and 567 CapeTalk presenter, TV host, columnist and author. Age: 34
Redi Tlhabi is an mult-talented, award-winning journalist who not only has a popular radio show broadcast in Gauteng and the Western Cape, but is also a Sunday Times columnist and TV host of ‘Redi on Mzansi’ on Mzansi Magic.
In addition, in 2012, Tlhabi began producing and presenting a weekly TV show on Al-Jazeera, ‘South to North’, which looks at African current affairs. As if she didn’t have enough to take up her time, in November 2012 her first book was published. ‘Endings and Beginnings’ is a personal account of her friendship as a young girl with a notorious gangster.
“‘Endings and Beginnings’, is an important work of South African literature. Perhaps unintentionally, it sits in the tradition of the great socio-political stories of the South African tragedy,” says one review.
Unique: Tlhabi calls herself an old soul and still likes the Golden Oldies, especially Nina Simone.
ALITA VAN DER WALT. Editor of Farmer’s Weekly. Age: 35
Alita Van der Walt’s predecessor, Chris Burgess, was a well-respected and award-winning editor. Over the years, Farmer’s Weekly established a reputation for having informative stories and essential investigations. In 2011, Van der Walt took over the reins of this specialised and technical magazine catering to a male-dominated sector and managed to improve on its performance.
Throughout the year the magazine’s circulation steadily increased in each ABC period. The magazine’s advertising revenue (for which Van der Walt is responsible) also increased.
Farmer’s Weekly won the award for best Special Interest Consumer Magazine at the 2012 Pica Awards.
Unique: Van der Walt grew up in a farming community. She has driven a tractor, milked a cow and bottle-fed hanslammers (orphaned baby lambs).
IZELLE VENTER. Editor of YOU, Huisgenoot and DRUM. Age: 37
Izelle Venter is the editor of the most successful magazines in the country. She started her career in journalism in 1999. At the age of 27 in 2003, after a few stints at various magazines, she joined Media24 as editor of tvplus.
After working as editor of Move! magazine and then Insig, she headed first to the Gauteng and then the Cape Town office of Huisgenoot, YOU and Drum. She became editor of the three titles in July 2011.
Through her efforts, Huisgenoot and kykNET launched the reality TV show, SAKTYD, in which contestants compete to land a job with the magazine for a year. In early February, Huisgenoot’s Facebook group broke the
200 000 barrier, making it one of South Africa’s top Facebook brands.
Unique: Venter says that she wouldn’t enjoy life so much if it wasn’t for Hello Kitty, Oprah, Walter Battiss, Downton Abbey and Earl Grey tea.
KIM WEISSENSEE. Founder and managing director of Applied Media Logic. Age: 35
Kim Weissensee started Applied Media Logic (AML), a media agency that also does public relations, 10 years ago and developed a business that now services international brands.
AML managed to retain all its clients during the volatile 2012 and had its most profitable year. Weissensee has increased efficiencies in her business by moving most of the daily functions to electronic and digital formats.
Says Barbara Cooke, doyenne of media research: “Weissensee’s uniqueness lies in the fact that she is a dreamer who has the courage to convert the vision into reality.”
Weissensee was also appointed to the board of directors of the Advertising Media Forum
Unique: Weissensee is fascinated by numerology and has a keen interest in boutique hotels, and plans to develop some of her own.
RYAN WILLIAMS. Head of Cinemark in SA and Primedia Business Solutions. Age: 34
In March/April 2012, Ryan Williams took over as head of Cinemark in South Africa, where he has overseen the growth of the business to a new all-time record for them, as well as growing profits by 7% in a flat to poor economy.
Under his watch, Cinemark has risen from the 17th ranked media owner overall to number three at the MOST Awards. He has also overseen a complete revamp of the marketing and delivery of the Cannes Advertising Festival in South Africa.
Since October last year Williams has led Primedia Business Solutions and was appointed to the board of Primedia’s ComutaNet.
He was MOST Awards Media Agency Innovator of 2011.
Unique: Before entering the media fray, William owned a few video stores and was a classical guitarist by trade.
KATE WILSON. Editor of Women’s Health. Age: 37
In less than three years Kate Wilson has successfully positioned Women’s Health as the fifth largest English-language title in the category. Her efforts and client relationships have meant that Women’s Health has grown the beauty market share and increased circulation consistently.
The magazine also showed a profit after three years, despite budget projections that it would not break even.
Through her efforts and leadership, Women’s Health won the Philip Tyler trophy for best launch in 2010 and also best launch out of 18 new Rodale launches at the international Rodale conference in 2011.
Wilson saw the title’s total paid circulation rise 8.4% year-on-year to reach 78 791 in July 2012. Women’s Health has now overtaken both Cosmopolitan and Glamour’s figures.
Unique: Wilson is a self-proclaimed food nerd and movie buff. She was deputy editor of a movie magazine in London for two years.
RIAAN WOLMARANS. Digital executive editor of BDLive and Business Day. Age: 38
Riaan Wolmarans is Business Day’s digital whizz who has revamped the Business Day and Financial Mail (BDFM) group’s digital properties completely. Within five months of launching BDLive, he doubled Business Day’s online traffic.
“He has been the quiet, unflappable genius behind a truly remarkable increase in traffic to BDlive since we switched it on,” says Peter Bruce, BDFM publisher and MD. “The sheer brilliance of the site he created has lifted the newsroom around him, with journalists who were once willing to die for print now happy to entrust their stories to digital as well.”
Wolmarans was editor of Mail & Guardian Online from 2006 and, in 2009, he became a senior production editor and manager at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. In 2011, he was appointed production editor of the Financial Times’ special reports team.
Unique: Wolmarans is fascinated by natural disasters.