Fadia Salie has just taken over editorship of Fin24, South Africa’s largest source of business, financial and economic news. Salie has spent 20 years in print and online journalism, before doing a stint in corporate communications. Salie has done time as personal finance editor at Jou Geldsake – SakeBurger as well as being content editor at Fin24, before joining Sanlam as communications practitioner.
Fin24 is a strong brand, well established in the online marketplace. Do you have plans to change it in any way?
There is a slight content strategy change: Fin24 will increasingly be giving our users a platform to talk money. Communication, even sharing news, is never one way and you’ll be surprised how much value our users have already added by sharing their money woes and joys.
In terms of the Fin24 model, where do you stand on monetising content, always the BIG question?
As with all online content the primary monetisation model is through advertising.
We always listen to our advertisers’ needs, understand their communication strategy and implement this through sponsorship of sections or pushing the creative boundaries through display advertising.
Going forward we would like to work even more closely with potential clients, creating partnerships and tailor-made solutions, while always retaining the editorial integrity of Fin24.
Should a client require, we are also able to look at co-creating custom content.
It’s a big site, which demands a constant flow of content. Are you largely reliant on wire copy or aggregating your content from 24.com sites? How do you feed the site with top end copy?
We know our users best and try to give them the best content that they can derive value from. So, yes we do rely on the wires, but we also aggregate not only from the 24.com sites, but also other news sites – stories we feel our users could benefit from.
Lately, we’ve also done a lot of writing ourselves. And then there are our users: we have a Money Clinic where they can ask their pressing financial questions and we get experts to answer them; we’ve also just introduced a MyFin24 section where our users have carte blanche to share their experiences.
They can write about anything money-related: how you have to juggle 2/3 jobs to keep head above water; how one runs out of money before month-end; what does one do to survive; what works for you to get and stay out of debt; your savings plan and how if it benefits you, it can benefit others; where your personal financial adviser fits into your plan; if you are an entrepreneur, how you made it to the top, what are your stumbling blocks, sometimes we are our own biggest stumbling blocks, etc.
Basically the Fin24 user can write about anything, as long as it relates back to money. We also have big plans for the Entrepreneur section.
What’s the status of your advertising at present? Are you happy or driving for more?
Is this a trick question?
Who is your reader? What does your research show, and is there a market you’re going after?
Our readers are highly skilled and financially literate, with an abiding interest in finance and business. Fin24 readers are inspirational but practical-minded; they are vocal on politics, racial issues and leadership. Our readers want to understand how finance will affect their purses.
What are your most popular types of stories, where you get your biggest hits?
Sadly, race still a big talking point in South Africa, but we are trying to steer people away from only thinking black and white.
Fin24 is all about nation building and giving everyone a voice. For example, we launched our Women’s Month campaign in August and managed to feature more than 30 women in business who made time in their busy schedules to write for Fin24 as guest columnists.
This Heritage Month we’re inviting people to share their past experiences, and how these have changed their outlook on life.
What is your view of the state of financial journalism in South Africa (David Bullard has been highly critical at what he calls a lack of expertise in the field)?
I agree, but there are gems.
In the last two months Fin24 has attracted expert columnists, Arthur Goldstuck (IT) and Geoffrey Chapman (Trade) among others. We’ll be looking at adding more people who can give an expert opinion in their respective fields going forward.
What skills does a good online financial editor need? Do you have all of them or are there some areas you’d like to study further?
No one ever has all the skills. What’s good about online is that you are learning by the second, but you can also implement as fast, if not faster. And you can remedy a wrong turn or mistake just as fast. And, obviously, you have to love what you do.
What will be the biggest challenge of this job and how do you confront challenges?
The biggest challenge will always be to keep users engaged, but there are ways and means. We’ll have to see as users open up.
How will you use the skills learned in corporate communication in your job as editor of Fin24?
Corporate communication is not that different, apart from keeping a particular group of stakeholders happy. Engaging with and involving them in your communications is probably the biggest skill.
Is finance and economics still a man’s world? Do women read financial sites in significant numbers?
Maybe you should do a spot poll and ask people who do the finances in their house? Or maybe you can ask this question to the head of the reserve bank?
Seriously, 34% of Fin24’s readers are female. And you can only go and read the insightful columns our readers wrote for Women’s month to see how times have changed.
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