There’s no shortage of business news titles across media platforms in South Africa and the country’s high level of financial journalism is indisputable. But it can also be accused of being rooted in the 20th century, with an established approach that overlooks the bite-sized, time-conscious tech-driven news consumer. It’s a gap Media24 aims to fill with the imminent launch of the local version of Business Insider (BI), the fastest-growing business news site on the globe.
It’s also the biggest, with 15 issues in 20 countries reaching 120 million unique visitors per month across all platforms. Owned by German media company Axel Springer, BI entered Africa via launches in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana a year ago. So a South African version seems long overdue – and partnering with an existing media house like Media24 will ensure an almost immediate audience. But Media24 already has a lot on its plate, so why rope in competition, specifically when it could threaten readership of its flagship finance offering?
“Fin24 is the undisputed market leader in the finance space and Business Insider will complement Fin24 with a different, younger content offering,” notes 24.com CEO Andreij Horn, adding that while Business Insider South Africa will have its own domain, it will be linked to Fin24, but is aimed at a wholly different market.
“We believe there is a space in the South African market for a finance offering for the younger market. Business Insider South Africa will focus specifically on tech, finance, markets, strategy and executive life that will contain lifestyle content,” says Horn.
It’s the fast-paced, high-impact stories the brand is recognised for that excites inaugural editor Helena Wasserman, a veteran finance journalist and self-confessed, long-term fan of the online publication – “I’ve never met a BI listicle I didn’t like” – who reckons young South African entrepreneurs are hungry for financial coverage that reflects their experiences. “These are people who are ambitious, they are hungry for success and they want to understand how the macro stories will affect them personally. Many have side hustles and all are time-starved; they simply don’t have the time to read through a long article to find out whether a company’s price-earnings ratio is justified. They want information on how to be successful, make money and live a better life. Business Insider has a strong tradition of doing exactly that, offering financial news and information that is smart, helpful, accurate, fearless, fast and fun.”
Mobile-driven feeds have changed the online news landscape significantly, and a local version of Business Insider’s vertical approach and offerings is set to give the finance industry a much-needed edge. “We will offer our users tools to get ahead, and we will aim to get as close as possible to real life in South Africa, covering everything from business opportunities and stokvel innovations to investment products and lobola,” reveals Wasserman, whose experience includes stints on Finweek, Fin24 and Sake24.
Entrepreneurs and sectors, including the media industry, making an impact on the economy will also be highlighted, she adds. “Often, this falls outside the large, listed company space, which is currently covered thoroughly by the traditional financial media. BI SA will cover what South Africans are really interested in. What they really want. Instead of giving them what the traditional financial media think they should be reading.”
Wasserman and associate editor Phillip de Wet, formerly of Mail & Guardian, will lead a team of journalists who will cover business innovation, technology and the executive lifestyle. She’s confident that it will go beyond reader expectations – and set new industry trends: “We will be absolutely user-led and obsessed about aligning ourselves with the needs of our audience. So in that sense, we will hopefully show the industry the power of popular business and financial coverage.”
Business Insider South Africa launches on February 23.
Lucinda Jordaan is an independent writer, researcher and editor with extensive experience in all media, covering various fields from academia and finance to education and lifestyle.Her articles have appeared in several award-winning publications, locally and internationally, and she has contributed to various books and online sites, including The Media Online.