Independent Media this week announced that Adri Senekal de Wet has taken up the mantle of Editor-in-Chief, overseeing a diverse portfolio of 18 titles.
Many will know Senekal de Wet as the driving force behind Business Report.
Senekal de Wet, who holds a B Com (Economics), did not start out as a news pundit. Her initial career spanned a stint in Treasury at the then-Volkskas Bank (now Absa) as a money and capital markets trader.
She also worked at various financial institutions and managed a stakeholder relations company, with a natural progression towards financial journalism, which she started at Fin24, then as economics editor at Sake Beeld and economics and markets editor at Sake Rapport.
She joined the Sekunjalo Group in 2010 as the stakeholder relations executive in Cape Town, before relocating to Gauteng, ultimately joining Independent Media in 2016.
In her new role as editor-in-chief, Senekal de Wet brings with her a vision to place people at the heart and soul of South Africa’s largest print media company.
Responsible for managing eight daily, eight weekly and two financial publications, Senekal de Wet’s leadership will focus on unity, quality and engaging content, commercial sustainability and collaboration within the media industry, she said.
One of her first orders of business is for Independent Media to re-join South Africa’s Press Council. Readers can look forward to a people-centric approach, Senekal de Wet said.
“Whether people consume their news via print or online, people are at the heart and soul of Independent Media,” she said. With 20 prominent newspapers under its umbrella, including household names such as The Star, Cape Times, Cape Argus and The Mercury, Independent Media has firmly entrenched itself in millions of households across South Africa.
African Independent also serves the entire African continent, while Isolezwe and lesiXhosa provide daily news to millions of Zulu and Xhosa speakers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
Senekal de Wet positions Independent’s titles as the “Voice of and for all South Africans” reflecting the company’s commitment to inclusivity and representing the diverse voices of the nation.
Quality is paramount at Independent Media, and Senekal de Wet will place a strong emphasis on providing readers with trustworthy, well-researched, and well-balanced content that also encourages engagement.
In an era where media’s credibility is challenged by fast news, fake news, misinformation and viral social media, Independent Media under Senekal de Wet’s watch aims to grow trust and grow readership by continuing to break news stories, hold those in power to account and to deliver content that meets the highest standards – without fear or favour.
Senekal de Wet said the world of print media has forever changed, the advent of digital saw to that. But instead of curling up and folding, Independent Media recognised that within the context of South Africa, there is still a vital role for print as a medium, particularly since a large part of the country’s constituents still lack access to smartphones, internet connection and affordable data.
Therefore, making the news and information affordable and accessible to the majority of South Africans, who make up a large portion of the economics of the country, provides a stellar platform for advertisers.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by the media industry itself, Senekal de Wet called for mutual respect among competitors.
Media is threatened by several factors, including reduced newsrooms, lack of time to verify stories and the rise of social media commentators and more that all serve to threaten the existence of a qualified and independent media structure.
In-fighting among competitors will only serve to hasten the end, she said, thus there is a need to let bygones be bygones so we can all work together to uphold journalism ethics and reclaim our stance as being the authoritative voices of news and information.
Senekal de Wet said she would work with and rely on the group’s experienced editors and writers, several of whom have been in the industry for many years, and others who offer fresh perspectives.