Plan to close Beeld and Rapport newspapers confirmed

Media24 confirmed it is planning to close several mainstream print publications, including City Press, Rapport, Beeld, and Daily Sun.

Last week, news broke that the company – owned by JSE-listed Naspers – is considering closing many of its mainstream print publications.

Today, Netwerk24 editor Henriëtte Loubser confirmed that Media24 is considering ceasing the print editions of Beeld and Rapport and transitioning to digital formats. 

Netwerk24 started in 2014 as a digital platform for Afrikaans news, combining the online presence of popular print newspapers, Beeld, Volksblad, Die Burger and Rapport.

It aimed to adapt to the changing media landscape where people consume news digitally rather than in print.

Netwerk24 has grown successfully with a strong team of journalists and offers a variety of content, including news articles, videos, podcasts and magazine articles.

However, Loubser explained that paper copies are becoming less sustainable as more people read news online. 

Therefore, Media24 is proposing to stop printing Beeld and Rapport and publish their content exclusively online on Netwerk24. Volksblad and Die Burger Eastern Cape already operate this way as e-publications. 

Loubser also confirmed that Die Burger – headquartered in Cape Town – will be the only Afrikaans newspaper still printed.

She assured readers they would continue to receive high-quality Afrikaans journalism in a digital format with various features and content.

She added that the company is committed to preserving the legacy of established newspapers while thriving in the digital age.

This news comes as many print publications in South Africa are struggling to remain profitable amid declining circulation numbers.

The latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa (ABC) showed that newspapers saw a 1.6% decrease in circulation in Q1 2024 compared to the previous quarter.

Newspapers and magazines saw a 7.5% decline year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024.

The ABC said this underscores the ongoing economic challenges and shifts in consumer behaviours impacting the media industry.

“The current economic climate, coupled with the evolving preferences of consumers, has led to reduced discretionary spending on media,” the organisation said. 

“This, along with the growing prominence of digital platforms and alternative information sources, continues to reshape how audiences engage with media, posing particular hurdles for traditional print media outlets.”

Solidarity demands answers

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann

In a letter to Media24, Solidarity demanded clarity on the rumours that these publications are set to close.

Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann said the letter is written on behalf of the large numbers of Solidarity members employed by these newspapers. 

“Some of our members, including some in senior management positions, read in the media for the first time about these radical interventions. They were not consulted and received no communication in this regard,” he said.

“Our information is that some newspapers apparently set to close in October are still profitable. Printed newspapers still generate significant advertising revenue. Therefore, on behalf of our members and the Afrikaans community, we seek answers.”

The union said its decision to intervene is taken in the interest of Afrikaans, as abolishing these newspapers will deal a serious blow to the provision of Afrikaans news in the country.

According to Hermann, the price to be paid will be much greater than the savings Media24 will achieve by permanently removing these newspapers from the shelves.

“For more than 100 years, the Afrikaans community has supported these newspapers as institutions of the media. Nasionale Pers was born out of absolute poverty,” he said.

“That’s why we say Media24 owes a debt of honour to this community that built a company with few resources – one that they, as readers, have supported to this day. It would be dishonourable to curtail the Afrikaans news offer so drastically.”


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