Media’s challenge: Achieving balance between wisdom, experience and an ‘always on’ audience

Published Jun 28, 2024


REFLECTING the global decline of print media, Media24 recently announced the proposed closure of several of its print titles, including Rapport, Beeld, Daily Sun, Soccer Laduma, and City Press.

This development underscores the profound challenges facing media houses worldwide, as they navigate the complexities of an evolving industry and an increasingly digitally driven and dependent world.

This is a situation, that we, as a print publishing house of more than 150 years, are more than familiar with. Like media houses the world over, Independent Media has had to evolve to appeal to our diverse readership, which we have strived to do with news and editorial teams that represent them.

This includes appointing the youngest black editor in the history of the company and also the most female editors of any publishing house in the country.

In our stable are stalwart publications such as Cape Argus, Cape Times, The Star, Daily News and The Mercury. We have also created publications that serve our various reader communities, with titles such as the Daily Voice, Post, and Isolezwe.

Progress is not saying goodbye to what has been before and marching blindly into the future, progress in news media today is all about achieving balance between wisdom and experience, with the passion and energy of today’s young minds and needs.

This is why I am proud to lead this team, including our management and support staff, who have faced the tough trading environment in media and more specifically in print media, with alacrity and courage.

And bravery is what is needed to keep up with the increased reliance on fast news and instant information to feed what is currently a rapacious appetite of an ‘always on’ and connected audience.

To do so, media companies have been compelled to make difficult decisions about the sustainability of their traditional print operations for example.

Media24's announcement is now the latest in a series of adjustments that highlight the ongoing struggle to adapt to these seismic shifts.

Economic and political uncertainties, both locally and globally, also add another layer of complexity to these decisions. With most global economies still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in South Africa, a political landscape in flux, all media houses need to carefully consider the ramifications of their actions, particularly when it comes to job losses.

We understand, therefore, this cannot have been an easy decision for Media24’s bosses.

Indeed, Independent Media, has faced similar dilemmas and continues to strategise its sustainability. Consequently, we understand the gravity of these choices and the impact on those who lose their jobs.

Job losses in media highlight the human cost of the industry’s transformation and are but a hint of how all industries will be affected by technology’s growing influence – if it is not harnessed to the benefit of all mankind.

As media houses worldwide confront these challenges, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions to ensure the survival and relevance of journalism.

The industry must explore new business models, diversify revenue streams, and invest in digital transformation to meet the demands of modern audiences.

But media must also remain true to the fundamental purpose of why we exist in the first place – to reflect the news of the day and to share it in as unbiased and objective manner as possible.

It is also incumbent on our media to reflect as many diverse opinions as possible, of our readership, something that shrinks as more publications close and newsrooms become ever more condensed in favour of instant news.

Although South Africa has made great strides in “connecting” much of the country to the Internet, most South Africans do not have the means and ability to connect to digital platforms from which to be informed. That suggests that print will continue to play an essential role in the country.

As Independent Media, we thank you, our loyal staff, readers, investors, and all our stakeholders for continuing to walk this journey with us and as you enter each new chapter of your life, we hope to be right there with you, sharing your stories with your community and beyond, be that in print or online.

We also thank the Chairperson of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé, who has faced a barrage of unnecessary attention since acquiring this venerable publishing house.

But without him and his unwavering support and leadership through these struggling times, we would not be able to move forward and be your resolute door to the truth.

Media Statement released by Independent Media