LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR
It’s thanks to your support our cheeky little newspaper, born in the middle of a pandemic, is thriving
Our weekly DM168 newspaper now circulates 9,968 copies, the best performer in the Audit Bureau of Circulations' Weekly Newspaper category. In the first quarter, it showed a 19% increase from the previous year and an 11.6% increase from the previous quarter.
Dear DM168 reader,
I walk with a skip in my step and a welcome feeling of lightness of being now that we’ve finally said farewell to miserable winter. I get a generous sun-kissed dose of Vitamin D on my cheeks on my neighbourhood walks along the boulevards of Pretoria East.
Sure, the refuse is piling up on the pavements as the Tshwane municipal strike continues without an end in sight. And load shedding Stage 6 is back with a vengeance. However, I am still counting my many blessings.
Among those blessings are people like you who support the work of all my colleagues at Daily Maverick by buying this newspaper, subscribing to newsletters, reading our website and signing up to become one of our precious community of champions, Maverick Insiders.
I have worked in journalism since Pa fell off the bus in the late 1980s and I can say without exaggeration that never before has the support of readers like you been more pivotal to our very existence.
A sign of the demise of the industry that sustained us is the number of newspapers and magazines I once worked for that no longer exist: South newspaper, Tribute magazine, Elle magazine. Other titles I once worked for are recording nowhere near the circulation or revenue they earned in their heyday.
When I worked at the Sunday Times from 2000 to 2010, there were times like that Saturday in February 2003 when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and we sold more than half a million newspapers the next day. Today, the Sunday Times is still South Africa’s biggest-selling newspaper, but it now circulates 92,021 copies, according to the 2023 first-quarter figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), which verifies all newspaper circulations.
Thanks to your support, this cheeky little three-year-old newspaper, DM168, which dared to be born in the middle of a global pandemic in September 2020, now circulates 9,968 copies, the best performer in the ABC’s Weekly Newspaper category. In the first quarter, it showed a 19% increase from the previous year and an 11.6% increase from the previous quarter.
As we have moved to our smartphones as the main medium through which we consume not just news but all our communication, the business model of advertising and cover prices subsidising journalism has been turned on its head.
Most advertisers (excluding every one of those brave clients who dare to take a chance on quality media and thoughtful readers who spend more than a millisecond clicking) prefer the pageview and clickthrough rates they get from the masses on Google, Facebook and the vast, untested digital universe of websites and apps that do not subscribe to any Press Code and are unaccountable to anyone.
And so, all around the world, journalists are losing jobs and are being forced to trade truth-telling for public relations and government communications jobs. It’s heartbreaking.
But, because of people like you, our Sports Editor Craig Ray is now in France, covering the Rugby World Cup. He is there courtesy of many donations to a crowdfunding platform from our rugby-loving Maverick Insiders.
I want to thank all 424 of you who filled in the questionnaire we sent to you a few weeks ago for helping us understand how we can improve our DM168 newspaper. You include Insiders who read the DM168 e-edition, readers who buy copies of the newspaper at retail outlets around the country, and those of you who subscribe to the paper and get it delivered to your doorstep.
The good news is that we are rolling out our subscriptions countrywide and, if you sign up, by writing to [email protected], there is no need for you to get out of your pyjamas on a Saturday morning to go out to buy our newspaper; it will arrive on your doorstep.
I have read all your encouraging feedback and I guarantee you will see some of your ideas and suggestions coming to fruition over the next few months. I am bowled over by your positivity and constructive criticism. It makes me feel deeply honoured to be serving such amazing people who believe in what we do and, more importantly, in our quest to inform and help make our beloved country a better place for all who live here.
Our questionnaire had some flaws, which many of you pointed out, but the biggest – which I only discovered when we were about to select the winner of a hamper of DM books – was that we did not ask you for your names and email addresses. Please forgive us.
Those of you who filled in the questionnaire and are interested in winning a hamper of our incredible collection of DM books, please click here to fill in your name and email address by Tuesday, 12 September, so we can put your name in a draw for a book hamper. As always, please also share your thoughts for publication on our much-loved Readers’ Letters page, a space for you to have your say.
Most of you asked me to select my favourite stories of the week, so, last but definitely not least, these are my top reads in this week’s DM168:
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s six-month report card
Victoria O’Regan has interviewed several energy experts to review the work of the man President Cyril Ramaphosa assigned to sort out our load shedding woes. Despite the current Stage 6 load shedding, folks, there is some light! Read Victoria’s report to see if you can find it.
How 18 giraffes exported from SA to Brazil sparked a scandal
Our intrepid crime-buster sleuth Caryn Dolley takes a break from sniffing out the world’s myriad cocaine trails and casts her gaze on a very curious and possibly unkind trade in giraffes from SA to Brazil. Spoiler alert: unlike in that kids’ movie Madagascar, not all the giraffes survived their time in shipping crates across the Atlantic.
Meet the top eight spenders who keep our political parties going
Rebecca Davis has answered a question quite a few of you asked in our reader survey: Where do some of our politicians and their parties get their money?
Green fingers help ease hunger
This is your weekly dose of good news from our Maverick Citizen writer Tamsin Metelerkamp. A group of people in Touws River in the Western Cape, from an organisation called Compassionate Hearts, are not just feeding the hungry in soup kitchens; they are also helping them become self-sufficient by growing their own food.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which shirt is the most presidential of them all?
I know you asked for more laughs, so here is our monthly satirical column by Shaun de Waal. His target this week is Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. Don’t miss out on our regular cartoons: Madam & Eve, Rico and Zapiro.
If there are any of you who are looking to develop as leaders, we have a useful 12-page MBA supplement as a guide to your learning journey. It covers what it costs; how to study and work at the same time; how useful the study of business administration is for the needs of business, society and the country; why more companies should pay for their staff to do MBAs; and much more. DM
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.