It’s been a year in which the media was often the story. And that looks set to continue in 2017 as many of these stories are ongoing.
Take the SABC for example. The pithy ad-hoc committee tasked with looking into the public broadcaster’s affairs, particularly where its (non-existent) board is concerned has held South Africa spellbound as it unearthed scandal after scandal during the course of its investigation. The MAC sector charter has been gazetted, which means advertising and media agencies have to look sharp in terms of transformation. Then there’s the Competition Commission finding that major media houses colluded on price fixing. They’ve been offered the chance of a mea culpa and a massive fine before the Commission calls in its Tribunal to make a punitive ruling. Who will take the deal? Who will fight it? We’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, we took a deep dive into our analytics to find out which were our top 16 stories of 2016, and just for fun, our top four stories of all time.
- Radio is a sector that holds great appeal for readers of The Media Online, as our top five stories all related to the airwaves. Topping the list was our publisher Sandra Gordon’s story, Two new radio stations for MSG Afrika.
- There were two big resignations from 702 this year, and news that Sam Cowen was hanging up her headphones resonated with readers, and others, many of whom took the time to write to us to complain that their favourite was going off air.
- Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decision to change the percentage of local content played on SABC radio stations gave those stations a mere 24-hours to comply. Station manager of 5FM and monthly columnist on The Media Online, Justine Cullinan, wrote a piece on the move, 90% local: A music paradigm shift, that detailed how the country’s top commercial station made the move.
- A real surprise, this ranking! Clearly news you can use drove the numbers on this announcement: Briefly… Tickets for MetroFM awards on sale now. That a short new piece could pull this many readers clearly shows how popular a brand MetroFM is.
- SABC could alienate 5FM and MetroFM listeners and advertisers. Glenda Nevill spoke to South African media analysts on the impact of the 90% local decision on advertising and listeners. Time, of course, will tell and we await more RAMS in the new year to see how this story plays out.
- The Competition Commission finally finished its investigation into allegations of price fixing and collusion by big media houses. And it wasn’t pretty. While editor Glenda Nevill reported the story Media houses guilty of price fixing, fixing trade conditions – Competition Commission, it is by no means over. We await to see who will take the deal offered by the Commission, and who will fight on…
- The second big surprise in our rankings. The story − What is the reason behind Hot 91.9 FM’s rapid rise? − wasn’t actually a ‘story’ as such. It was actually sponsored content, what we call cybertorials, which is The Media Online’s native advertising offer. Pretty powerful endorsement of the offering!
- The drama never seems to end at Independent Media. And while Indy wasn’t the only media company forced to lose staff, the story Mass retrenchments will see large chunk of Indy staff walk by former staffer Donwald Pressly, editor of Cape Messenger, was of great interest to our readers.
- Ouch! The Competition Commission in April gazetted changes to section 73A of the Competition Act, which means conduct that is found to be collusive or cartel-like has become a criminal offence. Literally overnight, media houses had to review their commission structure. The story by Glenda Nevill was updated throughout the day as companies changed their rate cards as a result.
- Bad news sells, the saying goes, and this story by Glenda Nevill was surely proof of that old chestnut. News that Five Media24 magazines (were) on the chopping block rocked the media world. It’s never good news when print titles are closed and jobs are lost. Let’s hope 2017 is better.
- No one was more surprised than the writer of this story, Michael Bratt, when folks living in the land of ice and polar bears took apart our story Reality bites: Into the land of ice and polar bears and the BBC’s production of this reality TV series. The controversy brought us many readers from parts of this distant world.
- Oh dear, Independent Media in the news again, this time after settling out of court the case of former Cape Times editor, Alide Dasnois. But the group then issued a statement reiterating all its claims against Dasnois, who then told Glenda Nevill she had decided to take further advice from her lawyers after further incendiary claims made by owner Dr Iqbal Surve.
- The future of e.tv is still a subject of much speculation after the departure of Marcel Golding in 2014. Hilton Tarrant’s story Where to for e.tv? still holds true as not much as happened since we published the story in January.
- Another radio story in our top 16 of 2016. This time, we reported on A major shake-up in Kaya FM programming as the home of the Afropolitan rejigged its on air talent.
- Journalist and now editor of African Times, Piet Rampedi, is now stranger to controversy. But when he took on his colleagues at Times Media Group, while he was still working there, it led to questions on Rampedi. Twitter and the case for journalists’ free speech. Glenda Nevill chatted to media roleplayers on the implications.
- Fees Must Fall was one of the biggest stories of late 2015 and early 2016, and again, in late 2016. Kyle Findlay, head of data science at a major global research firm, used analytics to plot how this story ran on Twitter in the fascinating data piece, How the activist #FeesMustFall played out on Twitter.
And our top four stories of all time…
- We published this advice piece by Writers Write founder, Amanda Patterson, way back in 2012. Yet it consistently tops our charts. We asked Amanda if any updates were necessary on the piece but no, her advice remains the same. Yes, you CAN cancel your cellphone contract
- Our second most popular story of all time, Exclusive: Haffajee draws a line in the sand over racism. Glenda Nevill reported on an explosive situation at City Press in which former editor Ferial Haffajee wrote a letter to staff over various racial incidents that took place within her newsroom.
- This story is probably out of date (one hopes soap stars have received increases and royalties for their TV work) but when Generations was canned over the stars’ strike about their salaries, our story by Glenda Nevill, So what do Generations actors and other soap stars earn?, blew the lid on how much actors on various soaps make.
- It’s really time to update this story, Dissecting the LSM 7-10 market, and we’ve put it on the diary for next year. But Megan Chronis’ analysis of the LSM 7-10 market is still one of our most popular stories ever.