Avatar photo

By Carien Grobler

Deputy Digital Editor

Major Media24 newspapers said to shut down: Solidarity demands answers

"Some of our members learned about these drastic changes through the media without prior consultation or official communication," Dirk Hermann, CEO of Solidary, noted.

In a dramatic shake-up, the axe is reportedly set to fall on four major South African newspapers — City Press, Rapport, Beeld, and Daily Sun — in October.

Moneyweb reported that four sources within the media company have independently confirmed the decision to close these iconic publications. The Cape Town-headquartered Die Burger is expected to be the sole print publication from Media24 to remain in circulation.

Ishmet Davidson, CEO of Media24, said “Media24 continuously reviews its operations to ensure viability and long-term sustainability amid the transition to an increasingly digital media landscape. We will continue to consult with staff about potential actions and remain committed to following due process. We do not comment on rumours, speculation, or the details of any internal processes”.

This decision comes as Media24 and other print media companies face financial losses driven by escalating distribution costs, diminishing advertising revenue, and a readership shift to online platforms.

According to Moneyweb, it is unknown whether Media24 will create individual online brands for the newspapers, as their content is currently hosted in sub-sections of its News24 and Netwerk24 portals.

Commenting to BussinessDay when prompted on the report, Davidson said while the group constantly reviews business operations, a final decision regarding the closure of its print brands has not been reached. He referred to the Moneyweb report as “half-baked,” saying it had caused anxiety among staff.

Two reliable sources told The Citizen that the news was completely unexpected in the affected newsrooms, as the editorial teams found out Thursday morning via Moneyweb’s report. According to both sources, the editors were equally in the dark when the news broke.

Although rumours about possible retrenchments have been circulating, the timeline came as a shock to editors and reporters alike.

Circulation decline rocks Media24 print newspapers

Regarding the Media24 newspapers mentioned in the Moneyweb article, the circulation figures over the past decade, comparing ABC figures from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2024, are as follows:

  • Rapport declined from 177,016 copies to 56,410 (-68.1%);
  • Beeld’s weekday edition dropped from 67,766 copies to 19,369 (-71.4%);
  • Beeld‘s Saturday edition decreased from 55,260 copies to 24,110 (-56.4%);
  • Daily Sun declined from 296,489 copies to 11,696 (-96.1%);
  • City Press fell from 118,676 copies to 12,451 (-89.5%).

Die Burger, reported by Moneyweb to continue in print format, also experienced a circulation decrease from 59,895 to 24,161, marking a 59.7% drop.

A shift to online publications

In August 2020, Media24 converted Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap into online publications hosted on Netwerk24. In the same year, several magazines transitioned from monthly to bimonthly publications.

The journalists from Beeld, Die Burger and Volksblad already moved to Netwerk24 in 2016, where they have been working digitally ever since. Therefore, the news appears on Netwerk24 first and is then packaged in print format for the next day’s newspapers.

Solidary says ‘newspapers are still profitable’

In a letter to Media24, Solidarity demands clarity on rumours suggesting that the printed editions of Afrikaans newspapers like Rapport and Beeld may soon cease to exist.

The startling news, as reported by Moneyweb, not only disheartened loyal readers of these longstanding daily and weekly publications but also caught their own employees off guard.

Dr. Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of Solidarity, states that the letter represents numerous Solidarity members employed by these newspapers, including some in senior roles.

“Some of our members learned about these drastic changes through the media without prior consultation or official communication,” Hermann noted.

“Our understanding is that despite talks of closure in October, some of these newspapers remain profitable and continue to attract significant advertising revenue. On behalf of our members and the Afrikaans community, we demand answers,” he emphasised.

Solidarity’s intervention also underscores its commitment to preserving Afrikaans media, as the potential discontinuation of these newspapers would severely impact Afrikaans news coverage nationwide.

Hermann stressed that the loss would far outweigh any financial savings Media24 might achieve by ending these institutions, which have served the Afrikaans community for over a century, originating from humble beginnings under Nasionale Pers.

“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,” Hermann said.

Solidarity urgently demands feedback from Media24 and an explanation of how the legally prescribed consultation processes have been complied with, and what the plans are to responsibly manage the consequences of the decision.

NOW READ: Bad news for business and property owners as municipal rates spike

Read more on these topics

media Media24 Moneyweb Naspers

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.