Independent Media has launched its Xhosa title, I’solezwe lesiXhosa, in the Eastern Cape. The newspaper, says chairman of the group, Dr Iqbal Survé, is being published in response to the group’s transformation agenda, vision and strategy.
“The role of the media to advance the transformation and development agenda of our country is critical. Creating a platform for South Africans to communicate in their mother-tongue is part of our contribution to this transformation”, said Survé.
I’solezwe lesiXhosa is edited by Unathi Kondile and is designed to reach the “untapped” market of 3.5 million Xhosa-speaking adults living in the province who don’t have a vernacular newspaper catering to the needs. Kondile said this pointed to a “profound failure of South Africa’s media to transform itself”. He said I’solezwe lesiXhosa would signal a “positive change in South Africa’s media landscape”.
Advertisers had welcomed the paper, said Independent’s group head of marketing and communication, Lutfia Vayej. “We have rolled it out to new and potential advertisers with very positive feedback thus far. The editor has been on three roads shows across Gauteng, KZN and Cape Town seeing both agencies and clients. Our special projects, direct and national sales teams have had advertising functions and workshops in East London and we have seconded a direct advertising rep to our office in the Eastern Cape”.
Vayej said the response had been “fantastic”. “To some degree there is the normal ‘wait to see the first product, or first ABC’… but there is great excitement,” she told The Media Online. The advertising rate is R80 per column centimetre.
The newspaper is selling for R3 a copy, and Independent has ordered a print run of 60 000.
Editor Kondile and his team have settled into new offices in East London, but the group is still “settling on the correct level of staffing”. News from other parts of the Eastern Cape would be filed by freelancers and as well as “other service providers”. The news would be “uniquely local with daily themed pages that deliver news people can use”. It would follow the formula of the successful Isolezwe newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal.
Distribution around the large province has been outsources for the initial launch phase, said Vayej.
In terms of printing, Independent is “following a two-pronged printing strategy. Our plant in KZN prints and and distributes papers up to Mthatha while an outsourced printer (based in PE) is supplying copy up to Mthatha”.
I’solezwe lesiXhosa will be based on the same editorial formula as the successful trio of Isolezwe publications (daily, Saturday and Sunday) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, which currently has a collective readership in excess of 2.3 million weekly and will be supported by the same publishing team. The editorial team will be based in East London.
“We are very proud of Unathi and his team and I wish them every success with this publication which is the second vernacular publication for Independent Media and the first in the Eastern Cape. Here’s to the first of many more to follow,” said Survé.