It’s a thrill being editor of the Mail & Guardian but boy does it keep one busy. It’s been seven months since I’ve taken the hot seat and between fending off lawsuits from the likes of the Guptas and Sars, we’ve been keeping our heads down and trying to produce the best possible journalism.
You seem to like what we’re putting out, if the latest release by the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa is anything to go by.
The M&G was the only newspaper that saw significant increases in its audited sales for the first quarter of 2016. We were up 12.1% year on year while weeklies, in general, were down 10.3% for the same period.
But we know we cannot afford to stand still if we are to move with the constantly changing demands of our audience and new technologies.
Which is why we have launched a new strategy, along with a new site. It is part of an ongoing process of change and innovation at the M&G to ensure we position ourselves for the future.
The new website is just a change of skin. But if you pop open the hood you’ll see we’ve made a dramatic change in how we deliver the news to you.
For too long your favourite weekly has produced in-depth quality journalism once a week in our newspaper, and the rest of the week you’ve had to contend with news updates of a poorer standard on our website. Quick hits, wire content and breaking news defined a large part of our online output. There’s still a space for that, but for a few weeks now we have quietly launched our daily edition. This is a daily output of about 10 quality pieces of original journalism by M&G reporters, on the level of quality of what you will see in the newspaper.
You will be expected to pay for most of it, as that is the only way we can ensure the survival of what we do. By signing up for a digital subscription here for just R79.99 a month you can have access to the daily edition as well as a digital edition of the paper on a Friday.
But if you don’t subscribe you will still get an enormous amount of content for free, with more being added every day, as part of the normal output on the site.
To coincide with the launch of our daily edition we have launched a new website too.
The new site that you’re looking at is more visual than our previous sites, with slimmed down but punchier information about each article on the front of the site. Instead of wading through a headline and blurb you can make your choice based on one, longer-than-previous headline. There are also larger images and a greater variety of choice of articles with far more spots to carry our content.
New elements on the site reflect our new philosophy: wire content is carried in a sidebar called “breaking news”, while you can peruse the rest of the site for more thoughtful takes on the bigger story, instead of the incremental takes on an unfolding story that you could find anywhere else.
We have big focus areas that allow you to be still and appreciate one piece of content, whether it’s a beautiful photo, a video or a series of longform articles to choose between. We want to give you breathing room in an increasingly manic online space and we hope our design choices reflect that.
We are however firmly invested in the idea of iterative updates to our products, and we welcome all feedback to inform a rolling series of iterations, changes and tweaks to the site and the daily edition. Please email your feedback to [email protected].
Thank you for continuing to read us on the platform that most suits you – and for helping raise our circulation figures so dramatically.
We’ve worked hard to get back to the basics and produce compelling and punchy journalism with a good amount of pacing and mix of content. We’ve also rejuvenated our Friday arts section, launched a new centre for investigative journalism and rebuilt the editorial team with a slew of new hires: experienced hands and budding young journalists with loads of talent. A big priority has been transformation, particularly at the management level. We are so pleased that all these changes have been resonating with you, particularly after the tough time this publication went through during 2015.
It’s gratifying to know that more and more readers are getting on board with us. It’s not an easy time to hold power to account in South Africa, but having your support makes all the difference.