The Daily Sun has proved what they always knew to be true: that one copy of the tabloid is read by up to 20 people. The approach was quite unusual. A research company followed the newspaper from when it was bought and tracked it as different readers enjoyed the stories – three times.
Publisher Jeremy Gordin was on study leave when we caught up with him to find out more about what’s happening at the country’s biggest daily newspaper. He told The Media Online that he’s trying to complete a MA dissertation not on digitalisation, as we expected, but on Aristotelian influences on medieval philosopher Maimonides. Eish.
“Let me be uncharacteristically honest and begin by pointing out that the decision [to film a day in the life of a Daily Sun newspaper] was actually taken by the former general manager, Minette Ferreira, who has gone to magazines in the Cape and whose departure was a great loss for us, as was the recent departure of our über-boss, Fergus Sampson.
“But, having said that, obviously if you have a situation in which the research suggests that one copy of your newspaper is being read by 20 people, well, then, you want to check it out and see if it’s for real. It’s pretty remarkable, as you will have seen in our short movie [see clip below]. The latest All Media Products Survey (AMPS) figures put daily readership figures for Daily Sun at 5 351 000 (AMPS2014BA), with a circulation of 274 165 Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC April to June 2014. This means that almost 20 people are reading each copy of the newspaper,” Gordin says.
Ads24, the advertising arm of Media24 newspapers, screened the short film at two pop up cinema events in Johannesburg and Cape Town, a fun event that included a screening of the funny South African movie, White Wedding.
Gordin says he wasn’t surprised as the results were what he’d expected. “But it’s always very gratifying to have your expectations met – since mostly they’re not!” he says.Unemployment and a stagnant job market have affected the newspaper, says Gordin. “Yes, we have been hit – because our readers, for whom we exist, have been hit hard. As you know, unemployment is much larger and much more serious than official figures and words suggest.“To cut a long story short, our readers have been whacked – and are whacked daily – by not having money,” he says. “They have to choose between bread and/or milk and/or a newspaper – and nowadays between bread and/or milk and/or a newspaper and/or airtime. And, of course, no work, no money – unless you’re a politician,” Gordin says.
Nevertheless, the state of the tabloid market is “strong and promising”. “Problem is that we are all stressed by the state of the economy, another unavoidable cliché, – and we are even more stressed because our readers are the less affluent ones. There is also this tedious business of digitalisation… but, hey, we’re dealing with that too!” he says.
In the 12 years since the newspaper was launched by the visionary (late) Deon du Plessis, its readership has changed. “Yes, she has [changed] and I particularly choose the politically correct pronoun because the percentage of female readers has indeed climbed. The Daily Sun reader has changed a great deal. S/he has been transitioning – to use an awful word – during the last 12 years, becoming much more sophisticated, more urbanised, and yet, happily, mostly remaining as loyal and as devoted to the Daily Sun as ever.
“Importantly, the original reader’s children have now come on stream – to use an awful phrase – and they are way more sophisticated in terms of technology (for example) than most of us realise. I am talking about smartphones and such, of course. The ‘children’ also seem less interested in, say, tokoloshes – but they remain as interested in the weird and wonderful as their parents,” Gordin says.
Gordin says the newspaper has had numerous big stories this year – “what we play big, we play big, as the New Zealanders might say”. “What I can tell you is that one keeps learning, as founder Deon du Plessis always said, that our readers couldn’t care less about politics and government – not, anyway, in the forms that the physical and ‘spiritual’ broadsheets present politics and government – and that our readers are not scared of facing the reality in which they live, even though various politically correct watchdogs and the government keep trying to tell us what we can tell people!” he says.
Gordin has been working as editor and publisher of the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun since the last editor, Mazwi Xaba, left. Two new editors were appointed last week, Reggy Moalusi as editor in chief of both titles, and Prince Chauke as editor of the Sunday Sun. “The new editors, Reggy Moalusi, editor in chief, and Prince Chauke, editor of the Sunday Sun, will bring a lot because they have been around a while and they are very good at their jobs. Reggy understands DS readers like nobody else does, and understands (and likes!) where he comes from; and Prince, well Prince is a prince of tabloiders.”
In terms of advertising, Gordin says advertisers have always known the paper has a huge pass-on rate. “It’s not a state secret”, as Gordin says. “But, certainly, our documentary is, I hope, going to reinforce the message – and grab people’s attention.”
Some facts about the Daily Sun
The Daily Sun reader is often misrepresented and misunderstood by brand owners. The majority of readers 67% fall into Lifestyle Standards Measure (LSM) 5-7.
The average household income (HHI) of the Daily Sun reader is R9 220. One fifth (20%) of readers are high income earners in LSM 8-10, and 11% earn more than R20 000 per month, 17% earn between R11000 and R19 999, and 19% earn R8 000 to R10 999 per month.
Eighteen percent earn between R5 000 and R7 999 per month, and 15% earn R2 500 to R4 999. Fewer readers (13%) are in LSM 2-4, and 10% earn less than R2 499 per month.
The majority of readers are educated with 58% having a matric or higher, and 43% are formally employed, 9% are self-employed, 14% are students, and 4% are housewives (AMPS2014BA).
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