Afrikaans tabloid the Son turns 10 this year. Starting as a weekly before becoming a daily in 2005, the newspaper is now officially the biggest Afrikaans daily in South Africa, with over a million daily readers.
“The past decade has seen an idea turn into a publishing phenomenon that is rare and very special in these difficult times, that is Son. The decision to create a voice for working-class Capetonians was based on very clear signs of upward and forward momentum amongst a segment of the Cape Town population that were previously ignored by the mainstream media,” comments Andrew Koopman, editor-in-chief of Son.
“Starting with the Witness in KZN and on to Daily Sun in the Gauteng, the founding of Son was a natural progression for a company that is committed to serving a broad cross section of the South African market place.”
Son unashamedly targets the working class communities of the Eastern and Western Cape. This market was previously ignored by mass media, but Son understands and addresses the needs and aspirations of its readers better than any competitor.
The title’s winning formula is to be a “hyper relevant”, easy to read newspaper and this is reflected in its overall layout, tone and manner, humour and length of stories. It also offers innovative zoning options for advertisers to target specific areas in its distribution network.
Son has become the pulse of the coloured community. To its readers, Son is the trusted friend and informer. Many readers contact Son, before they contact the police. “Son is a champion for justice, stands up for those who cannot speak for themselves and challenges powerful people and institutions on behalf of its readers. The paper reflects, on all levels, the sensibilities and lives of its readership,” Koopman says.
He attributes the newspaper’s success to “Hard work, dedication and a clear vision. We know our market inside-out and do regular research. We stick to a proven formula.” Son originally targeted a wider spectrum of Afrikaans speakers and was distributed in Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape, as well as the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. A strategic decision was made to focus on the coloured communities of the Eastern and the Western Cape and at the same time end operations in less profitable regions. This singular market focus was the turn-around for this now well-received tabloid.
Son plans to celebrate this year with its readers through donations, giveaways, bursaries (for five complete university degrees) and reader competitions. It will also profile community builders and achievers in its target market. The title is renowned for its celebrations and there will definitely be a few big ones, culminating with the Son 10 Year Bash in December.
Son is poised to become even bigger by increasing its market penetration and growing Son op Sondag. “The immediate aim is to grow our circulation in the Western Cape to over 100 000 copies sold per day and 20 000 in the Eastern Cape,” Koopman says.