The idea seemed simple back then: All we wanted to do was launch a news website that was good-looking and a pleasure to read, meaningful and pertinent, honest and truthful to readers and advertisers alike.
Of course, us being us, The Daily Maverick had to break just about every convention conceivable: Each story had to be a great, magazine-quality read, have big photographs of superior quality that added extra meaning to the narrative. And, while we’re at it, the website also had to re-invent the online advertising wheel and offer advertisers some meaningful, luxurious space that would result in readers actually being interested in their brands.
And to make things even simpler, we wanted to also send our readers a daily newsletter that was freshly-made each morning for people who had just woken up; a newsletter that would, over time, garner a religious following of bleary-eyed folks that got hooked on its newsiness, irreverence and sheer pleasure of reading clever stuff First Thing in the day, knowing it was custom-made only for them. Even if that required one half of the original team, Phillip de Wet, to officially denounce sleep and other unnecessarily highly rated comforts.
And, needless to say, we were not about to let our finely crafted pages turn into a slanging match between savages who are more than happy to be vicious and cruel, as long as they could bravely hide their real names. We firmly believed – and today our belief is even stronger – that in the eco-system created by a publication that tells it the way it is, the commenters should also have courage of their conviction and let us know who they are, and all would be okay. Well, it worked almost 100% (yes, I’m talking to you, Lara and Archie).
As you could see, it was a really simple idea from each and every angle. But we couldn’t do it differently. After the terrifyingly painful demise of Maverick and Empire magazines, we made the decision to move online, but also decided to remain true to our ethos and our dedication to you, our reader. There was no point in us re-publishing wire copy and turning our site into a repository for everything we could lay our hands on. It just wouldn’t be Maverick. So we decided that we would every day have magazine-quality stories, conceived, written and edited by our team of great people: sages like Brooks Spector and Tim Cohen, guys in their prime, like Stephen Grootes and Kevin Bloom, and brilliant new finds like Theresa Mallinson, Sipho Hlongwane and Mandy de Waal. Our team of Opinionistas grew from one – Ivo Vegter – to a group of seriously good, thought-provoking columnists, soon to be joined by some rock-stars of SA’s political, business and cultural life. There was just no other way.
It is fairly safe to say that this was a properly momentous year for all of us here. As South Africa’s political scene steadily grew more and more chaotic, we’ve created a safe haven for reason, a publication you can always turn to when you need to understand what is reality, what is driving it and what is likely to happen next. Today, at the beginning of our second year, we believe that, by being true to what we stand for, we’ve created a bond with you, the reader, that will not be broken.
And, of course, being only at the beginning of our road, we’re peering excitedly into our own future. It is a future in which we see ourselves as SA’s premier news website, always moving, always creating, always excited about the next day. The one we just can’t wait to share with you. DM