In the wake of its announcement of a major restructuring of its business last week, Media24 has made two more major changes to staff, and decided to close down its short-lived Durban edition of The Witness.
Andrew Trench, currently editor of The Witness, has been appointed editor of News24.com and current editor, Jannie Momberg, is to take control of News24’s Africa operations, Media24 announced late on Monday. “Trench’s experience in data journalism, civic journalism and cross-platform storytelling would enhance the News24 offering across the continent and signals an increase in the pace of investment in digital media,” said Geoff Cohen, general manager of 24.com, Africa’s leading online publishing platform and home to News24, in a statement.
“Andrew has a track record of leading teams to create excellent and award-winning journalism. If we are to remain leaders in online news we must work hand-in-hand with our experienced editors to ensure that content on our digital platforms is of a high standard. Our colleagues at Netwerk24 (Media24’s Afrikaans digital news platform for Beeld, Die Burger, Volksblad and Rapport) are clearly getting it right and it is time for News24 to pick up the pace.”
Trench said the challenge of enhancing News24 “with award-winning original content was enough of a rush for me to accept”. He$ takes up his new position on$ December 1.
Ishmet Davison, Media24’s new news chief, said closing the Durban edition of The Witness was a “painful decision”. He said while it showed promise, the “investment period was too long”. “Traditional print media in South Africa, like media businesses around the world, is under pressure and we don’t have the benefit of being such patient investors,” he said.
Trench, who launched the tabloid version of the newspaper in Durban, said he was saddened by its closure. “The Witness has a loyal and discerning following in Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands and we have focused on strengthening our relationship with them. We raised the profile of the paper and concentrated on giving our readers more of the bread-and-butter local reporting they enjoy. I think we got it right,” he said.
Davison said Trench’s appointment will strengthen Media24’s advantage in the online news space. He said Media24’s print and multimedia teams would work alongside News24 to “create the best content machine in Africa”
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