Media24 has announced big changes to its magazine and newspaper operations which are likely to result in big job cuts.
Media24 CEO Ishmet Davidson said during the COVID-19 pandemic they have focused on two main priorities – the health and safety of their people and business continuity.
He said Media24 tried to protect employment for as long as possible, but the pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media.
“The pandemic has resulted in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April,” said Davidson.
“For many of our print titles, the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they’ve run out of options in this regard.”
The planned interventions by Media24 include:
- Closing Move! and the Hearst portfolio – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling, Runner’s World.
- Publishing DRUM in digital format only.
- A licensing agreement with editor Helen Schöer to publish the parenting titles – Baba & Kleuter and Your Pregnancy – independently.
- Outsourcing the editorial production of the remaining monthly portfolio – Fairlady, SARIE, SA Hunter/Jagter, True Love, tuis/home, Weg!/go! and Weg! Ry & Sleep/go! Drive & Camp, as well as the fortnightly Kuier.
- Reducing the frequency of the monthly magazines to six issues per year, and eight issues for tuis/home, SA Hunter/Jagter and Man Magnum.
- Closing Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun.
- Closing the Eastern Cape edition of Son.
- Publishing Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap as weekday digital editions only, available as complete PDFs on Netwerk24.
- Closing four community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal: Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever, and Maritzburg Fever.
- Consolidating Noordkaap and Kalahari Bulletin into a single newspaper, Noordkaap Bulletin, and Kroonnuus and Vrystaat Nuus into Vrystaat Kroonnuus. At the same time, incorporating Theewaterskloof Gazette into Hermanus Times.
- Accelerating the digital transition of The Witness.
The planned interventions are expected to affect around 510 staff members, with a proposed closure of 660 positions, out of a total staff complement of 2,971.
Media24 following Caxton and AMP
This announcement by Media24 follows announcements by Associated Media Publishing and Caxton that they are closing their magazine publishing businesses.
Associated Media Publishing, which published Cosmopolitan, House & Leisure, Good Housekeeping, and Women on Wheels, shut its doors on 1 May.
Associated Media Publishing (AMP) was one of South Africa’s leading independent media houses and was well known as a publisher of women’s magazines.
AMP CEO Julia Raphaely said they made every effort to continue operating, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic killed the company.
The major factors which negatively impacted the company were:
- The closure of printing and distribution channels.
- The global halt in advertising spend.
- The inability to host events in the foreseeable future.
Raphaely said these challenges have made it impossible to continue trading, even after investing large amounts of personal money into the business.
Caxton also announced it was withdrawing from magazine publishing and associated businesses in South Africa.
This decision, Caxton said, was needed because of the steady decline in advertising spend in the magazine media sector.
Caxton Magazines published 12 prominent magazines – Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People, Rooi Rose, Vrouekeur, Woman & Home, and Your Family.
Caxton GM Anton Botes said they have seen a steady decline in circulation over the last 7-8 years.
They expected Caxton Magazines to survive for another 3-4 years, but the COVID-19 lockdown condensed the decline into a 2-month period.