No matter how well served the industry is, there are always new offerings in the media world. Joanna Wright finds out about some of the new entrants to the market.
The fast-growing online industry and ‘convergence’ were the two most powerful influences in 2012’s new media offerings. The signs are that digital is the way to go, with many of the new publications being launched simultaneously in print and online. As Deon Braun, who this year founded TRAIL, a magazine for trail runners, says, “The media-rich possibilities of digital magazines are mind-boggling for publishers, advertisers and readers. The real world is blurring into the digital world – soon they will be barely discernible.”
And when South Africa’s only standalone daily business newspaper becomes a ‘digital first’, you know the impact is being felt. BDLive, Business Day’s new web brand, is a major shift in mindset and a courageous step, Chris Moerdyk, media and marketing analyst, wrote in an article published this year on TheMediaOnline. The shift means that content will be published first on BDLive and only afterwards in the print version. It’s free at the moment, but will be fenced with a paywall early next year – although publisher Peter Bruce says much content will be available for free and even the paywall ”will leak like crazy”.
In some cases there have been indications that advertisers are losing interest in print. A lack of advertiser interest stopped the release of Isolezwe’s SiyaPhola!, the glossy lifestyle magazine supplement, despite preliminary research showing a strong interest in the product among readers. The project was put on ice despite the fact that Isolezwe readership is strong. The Zulu-language, KZN-based daily newspaper has been one of few print titles to show strong growth in recent times, and a lifestyle supplement seemed an obvious addition. However, Independent Newspapers’ marketing manager for KZN Greg Dardagan says: “Ad revenue was not sufficient to satisfy management requirements, so the mag, which incidentally proved extremely popular with readers, is on hold until further notice.”
Revenue issues have also dogged the SABC this year. The national broadcaster has been trumpeting plans for a 24-hour news channel since 2010, but the launch was recently delayed again. In October, the project received a heavy blow from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Just ahead of his medium-term budget speech, he said that for the SABC, “this is not the time for vanity projects … not when this country faces fiscal constraints”.
However, many media launches did happen this year. Here is a round-up of new media in 2012.
From women’s and lifestyle magazines to Media 24’s first knock-and-drop in the Western Cape, there were several new print releases this year. Niche titles continued to proliferate.
Grazia, a weekly international celebrity gossip and fashion magazine, launched on our shores, with the first edition coming out on 29 May. Grazia SA is published by Media24, who are well aware that magazines come and go. The media company is reported to have done extensive research before launching Grazia SA, which is also focusing heavily on its online brand, an interactive and frequently updated platform. Grazia’s editor Danielle Weakley has emphasised that the website is not merely the magazine’s content “rehashed”, but is different and complementary.
Another women’s magazine, this one fully home grown, launched this year was Bonisa Media’s Fabulous Woman. This quarterly glossy aims to be an inspirational offering for modern women. Editor Pontsho Manzi, also a businesswoman and motivational speaker, says she wanted to launch Fabulous Woman because “there wasn’t a magazine that fully addressed my concerns and struggles. A magazine that didn’t just tell me about outward beauty, but also spoke to my inner beauty.”
Manzi says that print still has a place, particularly in SA. “Digital will never replace print. The majority of South Africans still do not have access to digital platforms and nothing beats the tactile feel of a freshly printed magazine or book.”
Caxton’s People magazine put out the first edition of an annual brand extension called Golden Stars. People editor Andrea Caknis describes it as a “glossy and stylish coffee table magazine featuring our selection of hottest stars, be they actors, musicians or even sports stars”.
Contact Media and Communications launched Spotong and On Route this year. Spotong is a business title aimed at the hospitality industry in the townships, and On Route has the tagline ‘Your South African Travel Companion’ with articles on travelling in South Africa, as well as photographic features and competitions.
TRAIL, the trail running magazine published by Braun, recently published its fourth edition and Braun says that so far things have gone “exceptionally well”. TRAIL is available in print and online, including as a tablet edition.
New business titles launched this year included African Innovator, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the IT industry in Africa. Its publisher is Abby Wakama, CEO and executive editor of ITNewsAfrica, an online technology news service. Claiming a circulation of 5 000, African Innovator is distributed to a pre-approved list of CEOs and other decision-makers in Africa.
acumen was another addition to the business press. This quarterly journal is published by the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs), the University of Pretoria’s business school. It is edited by radio presenter/journalist Chris Gibbons and the first issue featured a photo spread by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich.
Media24 entered the knock-and-drop market in the Western Cape with Eden Express, which is edited by Mandi Botha. The paper is published in Afrikaans and English and has two editions, for George and Mossel Bay.
Business Day now being ‘digital first’ increases potential reader engagement with the brand. Readers who register on the site can customise their viewing preferences and ‘clip’ news to read later. BDLive is available via the website, a mobi site and apps for iPhone and iPad. For advertisers, there are also improved website analytics, says Bronwen Auret, general manager of BDFM, owner of Business Day.
In a first for a South African newspaper, Daily Sun launched its own TV show. The twice-weekly show premiered on the DStv channel Mzansi Magic in October and is hosted by comedian Kedibone Mulaudzi. Daily Sun and its weekend edition Sunday Sun claim a readership of about five million and the show is meant to reach those people via another platform. The TV show is intended to bring the tabloid’s content to life, according to Daily Sun general manager Minnette Ferreira, for example stories from the paper will be followed up with interviews with people concerned.
CNBC Africa’s new show, Business FM, is a Friday evening wrap-up of news and events moving the markets. Each episode will see presenter Lindsay Williams discussing the biggest corporate, economic and market events of the week.
eNews rebranded in August as eNews Channel Africa, or eNCA, in order to start broadcasting on the Sky platform in the UK. This move is expected to broaden the channel’s reach to over 10-million subscribers in that market and gain access to the SA expat community in Britain. There are also deals in the works to broadcast in other countries.
BBC World News recently launched a new TV programme called Focus on Africa. It will also be broadcast on the BBC’s free to air partners across Africa and compliments the long running radio show of the same name on BBC World Service. One of the mission statements behind the programme was to present African news that challenges the narrative of a continent plagued by war and disease. Jamie Angus, senior commissioner of news for BBC global news, says: “The BBC has a wide enough spread of correspondents across the continent to reflect stories about culture, science, technology and economic development… It’s not about ignoring difficult or challenging stories – the BBC will always lead the way in asking questions in a way that it’s sometimes difficult for domestic broadcasters to do.”
When one thinks about how to reach Africans, television is not the medium that springs to mind. It’s more likely to be radio, or increasingly, cellphone technology. But Angus says: “We are aiming to reach around 10 million additional viewers each week with new TV services in Swahili and English… We’re well on the way to reaching that target.”
The BBC World Service launched a new flagship show called Newsday, which is co-anchored by former CNBC Africa senior anchor Lerato Mbele. South Africans can access the show on DStv’s radio channels. The show takes the place of The World Today and Network Africa and is expected to bring together those shows’ audiences. The show’s producers believe it’s the world’s biggest radio news show by an international broadcaster. Newsday is broadcast from Johannesburg and London simultaneously. Says editor Simon Peeks: “Lerato Mbele and Lawrence Pollard are the daily hosts; they’re supported by Matthew Kenyon at the sports desk in Johannesburg. Having our presenting team on opposite sides of the world does present several challenges… one of the biggest of which is to make sure the audience experiences the natural flow of the conversations between London and Johannesburg.
“Every morning we attempt to reflect the main global news, business and sport stories and talking points. We pay particular attention to those who we believe have resonance with our thousands of listeners in Africa. We mix that with the top stories from the continent, which again we believe travel beyond the borders of that particular country… Newsday aims to be lively, informal, conversational and engaging but, crucially, remains a show that showcases the best of the BBC editorially,” he says.
The show is broadcast on the BBC’s FM radio network in Africa of 80 stations. Added to this, more than 60 other FM stations across Africa broadcast a segment of the show daily, and it can be accessed through the BBC World Service’s online site and on short wave frequencies.
“Newsday is a global show too with a global audience. The United States, for example, is another country where we attract a large and loyal audience; with Newsday heard on around 380 public radio stations,” says Peeks.
So, while some of those media platforms that existed last year may not be there in 2013, others will continue to pop up to replace them. Some will soar and some won’t…
This story was first published in the December 2012 issue of The Media magazine.
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