Times Media Group will be rebooting the Rand Daily Mail brand via a new website aimed at decision-makers in business, the government and professionals.
Editor Ray Hartley confirmed to The Media Online that the site would go live by the end of October. TMG CEO Andrew Bonamour earlier let the cat out of the bag in a wide-ranging interview with Grubstreet, saying the online publication would target Daily Maverick readers.
“It’s been an incredible ride so far. I’ve been working on it for several months with our digital publishing people,” says Hartley. “The site will publish opinion and analysis which appears in the group’s print titles so you will see most of the columnists from the Sunday Times, Business Day, the Financial Mail, The Sowetan and The Times on the Rand Daily Mail site, which we want to ‘re-boot’ as rdm.co.za.”
TMG owns the Rand Daily Mail archive. The iconic newspaper was founded in 1902 and closed in 1985. It is being digitized, a massive project being overseen by the Group’s chief librarian, Michelle Leon. Hartley says he is looking at the Rand Daily Mail archive to “see what use we can make of it on the site, but that requires digitisation which is not yet complete”.
Hartley says Times Media decided to go with the Rand Daily Mail brand “because it has a reputation for strong, independent, critical and fearless journalism”.
“Even though this newspaper ceased publishing decades ago, it continues to be held in high regard by South Africans and we want to honour that legacy by publishing high-quality content on this platform. RDM will link to news content from our sites such as timeslive, but the focus will be on opinion and analysis,” he says.
Hartley says South Africans are engaged with the country’s current affairs. The RDM site’s slogan is The National Conversation “because we don’t see why high-quality opinion shouldn’t get a broad audience in a country where so many people avidly follow current affairs”. And the audience it’s targeting are sought-after by advertisers, he says.
“… It will offer fantastic opportunities for advertisers who want to reach this highly rated consumer market. It will compete with other titles in the thought-leadership space, but I think it will attract a much broader audience because it will carry content from very big brands such as the Sunday Times, Business Day, The Financial Mail and The Times and will enjoy marketing support from them. The RDM will also be carrying some of the group’s excellent opinion on sport, books as well as lifestyle copy, which should reach a broader audience,” says Hartley.
The site will be updated daily as fresh content is published by these titles. “The amount of new content which appears each day will vary depending on what is published by the titles,” Hartley says.
“We have drawn on our existing internet publishing resources and have used an outside designer, Grenade, to design the site. The aggregation model means we get clean copy that has already been subbed and submitted for digital publishing, so we will need a very small staff to keep it fresh,” he says.
The site will go live by the end of October, once it has been fully tested.