What were your top stories of 2014, The Media Online’s publisher, Sandra Gordon, asked? Which writers got the most hits? For online media, that is a simple question to answer. So we took a deep dive into our analytics and checked which stories kicked some media butt last year.
- At the top was our story on what soapie actors actually earn. As the real-life Generations drama unfolded, with threats and counter-threats, it held the nation in a thrall. But no one actually looked at whether the actors were in fact paid less than other soapies. The resulting story took us far beyond our usual readership of media professionals and in to the mass online readership market, making this story by far our most-read piece of 2014. And, in fact, it is still being read weekly by hundreds of people. So what do Generations and other soap stars earn? by Glenda Nevill.
- Chris Whitfield, the former executive editor of the Cape Argus and the Cape Times, penned a piece for our sister publication, The Media magazine. In it, he gave his version of events that took place at the venerable old newspaper group after it was bought out by the Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) consortium, headed by the controversial Dr Iqbal Survé, and before while the Irish still owned the group. Interest in the goings-on at the group continues to attract much attention, as the recent drama over the dismissal or resignations of various columnists will attest. The sad tale of Independent Media
- Of course the Oscar Pistorius murder trial was going to be one of the biggest media events of the year in South Africa. A world famous athlete, a gorgeous model, a murder in an exclusive suburb… Everyone had an opinion, and weren’t shy to express it either, as the action on social media platforms will attest. Our round up on the day the trial started, which delivered ‘news you can use’ in terms of what to watch on television, radio, online as well as who to follow on Twitter proved to be a hit with readers wanting a one-stop-shop for all the information. Oscar and the media: All things Pistorius by Glenda Nevill.
- We took a similar approach to the other public event last year that generated enormous public interest, South Africa’s general elections. Once more, we compiled a list of what to watch where, which apps (News24 in particular) would keep us up to date on what was going one. Elections 2014: What to watch, who to follow by Glenda Nevill.
- Retrenchments in the media sector have really hurt journalists, editors, production staff, sub-editors, advertising personnel and media workers, And it’s not about to end soon as the threat of more retrenchments looms for 2015. Our story based on the mass retrenchment of 11 photographers at the Sunday Times and The Times newspapers struck a nerve. Coupled with ongoing staff issues at Independent Media and closures of titles at Media24 and it’s not surprising our story, Blood on the newsroom floor, by Glenda Nevill, was widely read.
- The long-running Post Office strike in the latter part of 2014 continues to impact on publishing houses, particularly those in the custom and independent sector. Our story on how it hurt publishers and what they were doing to counteract its effects, was of massive interest, and was followed up by the major business news sites. This year it will be interesting to see how these publishers will choose to ensure readers get their publications in spite of the South African Post Office. Magazine publishers struck by Post Office strike by Glenda Nevill.
- Oh boy, never have we published a story in which readers commented so much and with so much vitriol. Tony Vaughan, of Media Nova publishing (and several other publishing entities), built a house of cards that came tumbling down last year impacting on unpaid staff members and printers to whom he owed a fortune. It was the printers that eventually brought him down, but not before he went to ground resulting in the insolvency court issuing a warrant for his arrest. Warrant of arrest authorised for Media Nova’s Vaughan by Glenda Nevill.
- A global story that had a big impact locally was the war between Palestine and Israel. What made a difference during this particular violent outbreak between the two was the mass outcry on social media, which because increasingly ugly and racist. Nikki Temkin’s heartfelt column on how social media exposed such racism struck a nerve, and found readers from around the world reading and reacting. Social networks expose latent prejudice.
- Ed Herbst’s meticulously researched piece on how the SABC fails to cover farm murders, a part of South African life that impacts on the country’s food security, resonated with readers. Unfortunately the SABC chose not to respond to questions on its editorial policy regarding farm murders, but evidence shows that this is a story that is not covered by the public broadcaster. It also has the distinction have scoring the most Facebook ‘likes’ of any story last year. Place of sorrow: Farm murders and the public broadcaster.
- And lastly, The Media magazine runs a regular column called ’20 questions with…” The magazine’s 20 questions with the columnist, scriptwriter and author had readers in stitches, and was read far and wide. 20 Questions with… Darrel Bistow-Bovey.
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