Times Media Group has scored a major coup after successfully headhunting Media24’s general manager of digital, Lisa MacLeod. MacLeod was responsible for the successful integration of the Financial Times in London’s print and digital properties.
In an email to The Media Online, CEO of Times Media Group, Andrew Bonamour, confirmed the appointment of MacLeod saying he had “wanted her” to join TMG since he read about her in The Media Online and The Media magazine.
In a statement issued shortly afterwards, managing director of TMG, Andrew Gill, said MacLeod’s appointment was “significant given the demand for digital expertise in a highly competitive media environment”.
“MacLeod is familiar with the challenges of taking widely recognised print businesses, and evolving them into lucrative digital-first operations. The intellectual capital she brings is completely aligned to TMG’s expansion strategy, and our goal to become SA’s leading provider of news and entertainment through digital innovation. She is also no stranger to the culture of a newsroom,” Gill said.
Esmare Weideman, CEO of Media24, said MacLeod’s departure would not cause any disruption to Media24’s digital assets. “We are fortunate to have a depth of talent in our digital operations, as evidenced by our leading position in digital publishing not only in South Africa but on the continent. It was a pleasure working with her and we wish her well in her new endeavours,” she told The Media Online.
MacLeod returned to South Africa late last year after nearly 12 years at the Financial Times (FT) in London where she started working in 2003. She led a number of newsroom change projects as the, before becoming managing editor in 2010. She helped “shape and execute” the FT’s successful digital strategy and is renowned for her ability to integrate print and digital operations.
At the time, Weideman, told The Media Online MacLeod was “exactly what we needed to strengthen our team”.
“As GM of digital publishing she will take responsibility for formulating and executing a single digital publishing strategy, free and paid, across our News, Lifestyle and 24.com divisions,” Weideman said then.
Now MacLeod will be in charge of rival TMG’s digital strategy. “MacLeod will drive the ‘digital-first’ needs of our business without sacrificing editorial integrity or advertising revenues. It is a very exciting time to be part of the media industry in South Africa, and we are intent on ensuring TMG remains a relevant market leader,” Bonamour said.
MacLeod isn’t new to TMG. She began her career at the Daily Dispatch and was later managing editor of Business Day before leaving for London.
“Seventy percent of the FT’s total paying audience now comes from digital subscriptions. I have no doubt that TMG’s business will soon be moving in moving in the same direction,” MacLeod said in the statement.
TMG has also appointed former Independent Media editor, Philani Mgwaba as group executive for editorial (he has also been appointed to the TMG board of directors) and Vernon Matzopolous as head of broadcast.
Note: Story updated at 4.36pm with comment from Esmare Weideman.
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