6 October 2019
Our seal of quality is enough to stay clear of the dark side of this noble profession
IT seemed like ordinary banter between two former colleagues who worked at The Sunday Independent in 2012, breaking stories that, seven years later, would rock the nation when revealed at the State Capture Commission.
Many of the crime intelligence shenanigans that have shocked our country in the last three weeks were revealed in a series of scoops by a number of our reporters led by Gcwali Khanyile.
Dianne Hawker, who is now the head of news at Newzroom Afrika, a television station that is really doing great things, then says in jest: “Glad you came back from the dark side.” My retort, with teary emojis, was that I seem to “have returned to the dark side of journalism”.
The context is that those in the media often refer to colleagues doing public relations and marketing, which I did for a short while, as involved in skulduggery, manipulation of truth and spin. Looking at revelations against senior journalists at the State Capture Commission and the general malaise afflicting this noble profession, marketers and PR executives might be excused for thinking journalism has become the “dark side”.
Many scholars have noted, though, that it is rough seas like these that spawn new ideas and ideals. French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau calls it the social contract.
Sunday World, published by newly established and 100% black-owned Fundudzi Media, is South Africa’s premier provider of exclusive, reliable but hipper celebrity news.
Considered the original South African tabloid newspaper for its juicy, playful and irreverent news coverage, Sunday World is evolving into a wholesome family read that covers quality political, business, investigative, lifestyle and in-depth sport content.
Guy Reel, a journalism lecturer and associate professor at Winthrop University, says of tabloids: “Tabloids have a long track record of incorporating the good, the bad, the ugly, the bloody, the sexy, the wild, the crazy, the truthiness and the mythology of the headline business and its relentless efforts to inform and entertain. They cry out for readers, pull them by their collars and scream in their faces.”
While tabloid news remains the mainstay of our content mix, readers and advertisers will increasingly find there is a tapestry of choices in their favourite paper than was the case previously. Much has changed on our pages since David Mabilu bought the newspaper from Tiso Blackstar Group in July.
As the paper evolves, its approach to major issues facing the country allows our news team to package themed content.
You may by now have noticed that we feature politics, led by our Associate Editor: Politics George Matlala, on our page 4 consistently. Our idea is that readers interested in celebrity tidbits are, without a choice, affected by politics.
Part of our focus will be on palace politics that have haunted the ANC, DA, PAC, Azapo, and wait, almost all parties. Hello Mmusi Maimane? Our interests also include the tripartite alliance dynamics, influence of business on politics, geopolitics and, importantly, issues of accountability often highlighted by the auditor-general and Chapter 9 institutions.
Politically, the paper is not aligned to any faction, or any political party – but is a platform of fierce and fearless engagement for all political parties. Our democracy can only benefit from this.
You may also have noticed that, for the first time in what seems like forever, Sunday World now has a Business Editor in Kabelo Khumalo, formerly with Business Report. He may have been here for only a month-and-a-half, but Khumalo has already positioned our business pages as a home for everybody interested in entrepreneurship and small business development.
He also tackles issues perennially affecting black business, like late payments and impact of innovation and training on the labour market. We invite you, dear reader, to pay attention to these pages as your favourite paper evolves.
Yes, we intend to do special focus reports on education, looking at the modernisation work that Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and his other provincial counterparts are doing.
On health, it’s common cause that our sedentary lifestyles kill us. In the near future, this tabloid for discerning South Africans will focus on this but also on science and technology; housing and infrastructure development; mobility; the impact of the economy on family and national finances. We intend to leave the tokoloshe stories to their masters!
But let me be clear: Sunday World will remain a tabloid that is an attention-seeking, investigative, analytical, celebrity-focused newspaper for thinkers.
As we weave changes into the brand, we will ensure that Sunday World’s seal of quality permeates every platform we use to connect with our audiences. This is why work is under way to create a whole new website, a modern website with a look and feel of the future, with payment gateways because, as you know, quality journalism comes at a modest cost (well, the bean counters might kill me for this!)
Our seal of quality, on all platforms, has become even more necessary in this age of web-based hoaxes, fake news and “alternative facts” where ubiquitous information on the net generates confusion whose tonic, dear reader, is our reliable tabloid for discerning readers that is Sunday World – in print or on digital platforms.
Hopefully, in this way, journalism will not be the “dark side” as it appears from the State Capture Commission.