Media24 has announced a large number of closures and restructuring of its newspaper and magazine portfolio, which is expected to affect 1100 employees.
The group says it is considering the closure of five magazines and two newspapers while outsourcing and reducing the frequency of its remaining monthly magazines, making two newspapers digital-only and reducing staff in related support services.
They announced that 510 positions are impacted by the restructuring process involved with consolidating some titles and shifting others online, while 660 positions will be reduced, the group said. Consultations with staff were set to start on Tuesday (7 July).
The company pointed to significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April.
It said that the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa has only accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline of print media in the country, and has resulted in “a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations”.
The changes are outlined below:
- Move! and the Hearst portfolio (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling, Runner’s World) are closing.
- DRUM will be published in digital format only.
- A licensing agreement is in place 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 & Slaap | 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.
The flagship weeklies, Huisgenoot, YOU and Landbouweekblad, will continue to be produced and published in-house.
- Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun are closing.
- The Eastern Cape edition of Son is closing.
- Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap will be published as weekday digital editions only, available as complete PDFs on Netwerk24.
- Four community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal are closing: Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever.
- Noordkaap and Kalahari Bulletin will be consolidated into a single newspaper, Noordkaap Bulletin
- Kroonnuus and Vrystaat Nuus will be consolidated into Vrystaat Kroonnuus.
- Theewaterskloof Gazette will be incorporated into the Hermanus Times.
- The digital transition of The Witness will be accelerated.
Other parts of the business impacted will reduce staff in the group’s media distribution business as well as in divisional and corporate services departments related to the proposed reduced print media operations.
The announcement from Media24 follows a similar move made by Caxton Publishing in May 2020, where it announced that it would be exiting the print media business.
The closure of its magazine division impacted 10 well known publications in South Africa, namely: Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People, Rooi Rose, Vrouekeur, Woman & Home and Your Family.
Caxton cited the same reasoning as Media24 in the announcement: declining revenues in the print media space as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the steady decline seen in the sector before the crisis hit.