12 July 2020
From the near-death announcement of the iconic Drum magazine and the possible closure of Sunday Sun and some Afrikaans magazines, it has been a tumultuous week for Media24.
While Sunday Sun used to be our competition before the repositioning of Sunday World, a move that catapulted us into the nation’s second-most read national English newspaper, we are saddened by its demise.
But this tragic development teaches us one thing the industry must never forget – the importance of media diversity.
Monopolies work best in good times, when economies of scale enable larger profits to be made. The downturn, however, makes sustainability even harder. The cost of producing many unprofitable papers can become staggering.
Sunday World’s former owner would have closed it a year ago. Yet, here we are. A distinct voice and contributor to the national discourse, a newspaper standing its ground – thanks to the corporate and government advertisers who appreciate the paper’s contribution to our democracy.
The spectre of the coronavirus has demonstrated that, in spite of tectonic changes in ways of consumption, newspapers will always remain society’s most trusted sources of news. The increase in fake news on digital platforms has generated confusion and alarm.
For our country to enjoy a multiplicity of voices that enrich our democracy, corporate South Africa and the government must consciously support diversified newspaper houses such as ours. It is time a new cohort of advertisers defends media freedom by supporting and investing in diverse media houses.