Courage is not the absence of fear, as wise people and motivational posters have posited, but rather the triumph over fear. One must first be willing to be vulnerable, to take a risk, before doing whatever it takes to break through the barrier that leads to courage.
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What started as a hunch a few years ago – that our brand of quality journalism would be a good fit for the printed form – finally comes to fruition as we loosen ourselves from the cocoon of lockdown. Hunches and gut instincts are important, but when making important decisions affecting the future and livelihood of your team, the chances of success are increased when data and research back them up. There’s no point wading into a channel or medium if there isn’t enough demand or financial viability and, despite obvious trends that many paid-for titles were waning quarter after quarter, we could see the data points and feedback from readers that led us to believe Daily Maverick 168 would work.
And so we set off with the stubbornness that got us through a decade of digital publishing and began putting together a plan following the rapid expansion of our newsroom in the last two years. Thanks to the support of our membership programme, Maverick Insider, we could lean on the fact that a healthy number of them, and other regular readers, would appreciate our journalism in print. This, along with their financial contributions, massively de-risked the venture for us.
Our “why” for this project is not a financial calculus. Our “why” is to create a curated journalism experience for those of our readers who want to break free from the digital deluge and recapture some time for themselves. So that readers can know more, and know better.
Daily Maverick 168 is published by South Africa’s most experienced newsroom and filled with investigations, in-depth analyses, biting opinions and the best cartoonists in the country. All available for free, if you swipe a Pick n Pay Smart Shopper card. That is the “how” and “what” of this ambitious project – something which, from what we can tell, hasn’t quite been done in this way before.
In a time when misinformation and lies get halfway around the world before the truth has had breakfast, it was important for us that we view this as an opportunity to make our journalism accessible to even more people through this innovative distribution model, partnering with Pick n Pay.
Our editorial ambitions are to grow and reach new audiences with every new product we deliver – and this is no different.
We hired our commercial and project manager in January to help advance our newspaper ambitions and brought in our managing editor during the hard lockdown period of April. Together, we continued to design, debate and drive the idea forward while working remotely, never wavering from the intention to launch in 2020. (Okay, we wavered a little by pushing out the launch date a couple of weeks, but that’s standard project overrun practice.)
During that time, as our workload exploded and we weren’t sure of much, we had to plan for scenarios without knowing what our Covid-19 curve would look like or what kind of state we’d be in as a country, industry or company. Our only comfort was knowing that journalism had been declared an essential service, and that access to grocery stores would be allowed as long as the country of South Africa exists.
And with that we kept the faith that our hunches; our interpretation of the market and our readers’ needs, would bring us to this point where we can bring hope to an industry in crisis, in a time of global despair.
For those many titles withdrawing from publishing, it was the challenges of digital transformation that tripped them up. A playground rife with bullies, but one that we hustled through for a decade. Our Achilles’ heel of being digital-only for so long had now prepared us to take a swan dive into print – when many others were retreating in the other direction.
Without vulnerability and risk, there can be no courage. But backed with a vision, a committed team and a tribe of members and readers, we can begin to write the next part of our story at a time when journalism and the truth are under attack everywhere. Daily Maverick 168 will help us defend both, and you can help that mission by getting yourself a copy every weekend.
Our launch plan will see just over 26,000 copies delivered to 125 stores around the country, and we’ll be monitoring results to see how quickly we can expand to other centres, and how aggressively we will increase our volumes. If your town or suburb isn’t included in the launch plan, you can access the e-Edition on PressReader and/or please cast your vote and encourage others interested in a quality, weekly print edition to do so too.
If you do pick up a copy this weekend, it’d be great to let us know what you think – tag us on social media with #DM168 #WeekendRitual.
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