Letter to Tim Cohen, editor of the Financial Mail, from deputy editor of the Cape Times.
“We noted with great interest how as venerable a title as the Financial Mail is, in the article ‘Fine Print: Conspiracy Times’ on 26 November dedicated such considerable space in its publication to a detailed analysis of the Cape Times’ circulation.
“The article’s author, Financial Mail deputy editor Rob Rose, is of course well known to us at Independent Media as one of our most ardent critics. It is flattering that in a week when there was such frenetic activity in the financial world such as SAA’s ongoing struggles, the end of SARS’ tax season and the impact of the interest rate hike, that Rose chose to focus his energies on his ode to one of our beloved Independent Media titles.
“The major crux of Rose’s contestation of the Cape Times’ audited Amps and ABC figures is that the title went from a readership of 235 000 in December 2014 to 234 000 in June 2015, a difference of all of one thousand readers over a six-month cycle.
“This, Rose gloated, was evidence that in announcing an update of its figures ‘the Cape Times report stopped short of revealing that those counter-revolutionary plotters might have had a glimmer of success after all’.
“Rose of course is among a proud group of ‘counter-revolutionary plotters’ who have made it their life’s mission to see the demise of the Cape Times, in protest at the paper’s stated intention of catering for a broader, more representative audience than purely the Atlantic Seaboard and privileged audience they’ve been accustomed to.
“It’s certainly been a concerted ‘end subscription’ campaign, led from the upper echelons of the Wale Street provincial government offices, which we will acknowledge has certainly had an impact.
“Rose notes that 9.4% of the Cape Times’ recent audited copies were either sold for less than half the cover price, or were classed as print media in education and distribution, all which is perfectly within the rules of the Audit Bureau of Circulation. (PS. It’s worth noting that just five years ago newspapers in education accounted for as much as 14.5% of the Sunday Times’ circulation).
“The Cape Times is proud to have held its circulation steady at 31 197 in the last release of its ABC circulation figures, from the 31 548 over the corresponding period.
“We have embarked on a new era at the Cape Times, for every detractor we have gained as many supporters for the new brand of journalism and ethos of the newspaper.
“We were particularly proud of the words of veteran journalist Zubeida Jaffer last week, when in addressing the national Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards ceremony, she singled out the Cape Times as one of “so many silver linings piercing through the fog of doom and gloom”.
“I am particularly pleased to see the affirming images on the front page of the Cape Times every morning when I collect the paper inside my gate. The images are unusually thrown across the newspaper’s masthead making a strong visceral impact on my brain. They make my heart sing,” Jaffer said to a national audience of journalistic peers.
“This is the cathartic effect of the Cape Times splashing the triumphant Riel dancers arriving back from winning a world title on our page one, or that of the Spring Queen competition so important to clothing and textile workers, or a national fencing champion pictured on the streets of Manenberg. That’s what change means to us at the Cape Times, that’s what real transformation means to us – reflecting our communities better, giving them a voice and highlighting stories of aspiration and success.
“As for Rose, he would do well to look at the circulation antics of the Sunday Times, his employers until his recent ignominious departure. The self-same Sunday Times that were recently forced by the ABC to reclassify 12 500 copies as voucher copies after they had classified them as business subscriptions.
“This, we believe is just the tip of the iceberg and we call again for a thorough investigation of the Sunday Times’ circulation and readership.
“Maybe Rose can use his same appetite for analysis to explain how the Sunday Times’ circulation declined by 35 324 copies from quarter two in 2014 to quarter two in 2015, while their readership grew all of 302 000 readers in that same period?
Deputy editor, Cape Times
[This letter has been edited in line with TMOL policy. GN]
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