When circulations rise, along with blood pressure – Ed Herbst

This entertaining piece with its literary nuggets and truths about quaint, die-hard habits is worth reading for more than mere enjoyment. Which means it fulfils its journalistic purpose in a very satisfying way. I for one, could not help thinking that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Take Sekunjalo’s newspaper-dumping as depicted here. The etiology of Sekunjalo and Independent Newspapers so closely mirrors that of the Citizen in the days of its owner/funder, fertiliser magnate, Louis Luyt, who bought it in close-collusion with the apartheid government for ‘counter-propaganda’ purposes. The Citizen was unceremoniously ‘dumped’ all over Gauteng to boost circulation figures and attract advertisers, who probably wondered how on earth such an unpalatable mix of news was so widely ‘read.’ Same old, same old. Habits die hard. Especially when your financing is deeply dodgy, as in both cases. Forget the news, focus on the crosswords and the cartoons – they at least are consistent. – Chris Bateman

Sekunjalo circulation figures questioned

By Ed Herbst*

Accurate and comparable circulation data instils trust in media buyers and owners alike. Media planners and buyers use our trusted data to gain insight and make decisions on where to invest budgets in a complex media field. Our data empowers agencies to be transparent, trusted and deliver best value to clients. We provide the ‘proof’ of performance to your stakeholders. Be prepared for advertisers who ask for ABC accreditation. – Make informed decisions about your advertising spend ABC website

Every advertiser wants the maximum exposure and South Africa’s Audit Bureau of Circulation does that research and provides the necessary circulation figures which assist advertisers in making informed choices in spending their advertising budgets.

Ed Herbst

A friend teaches at a small primary school in one of Cape Town’s leafy suburbs.

Shortly after Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo company bought the former Argus Group newspapers with a substantial loan from the Public Investment Corporation which he is now refusing to repay, the school suddenly found itself to be the daily recipient of about five dozen copies of the Cape Times.

It had never approached the Cape Times in this regard.

My friend said a few are read in the staff room but the pupils are not  interested because they get the news they find relevant to their lives from their cell phones as it happens.

Some are cut up and used in class projects but the majority are dumped.

Now the ABC has issued a statement to its members which tells its own story.

There could be consequences. The big retailers who pay for inserts are charged per copy. So the likes of Pick ‘n Pay and Shoprite may well be asking for hefty refunds.

Who do you believe?

Anesh Ramjith, Independent Media’s head of circulation, denied that the company’s circulation figures had been inflated.

Who do you believe, him or the Audit Bureau of Circulation?

In early 2017 the Cape Times editor, Aneez Salie, started placing articles on the front page of the newspaper suggesting that, in an international competition run by the American website Newseum which assessed the best newspapers in the world according to their front-page typographical layout and content, his newspaper routinely triumphed. The claims were devoid of truth and you can read the details on this website.

Newspaper readers are creatures of habit as I discovered, somewhat to my chagrin, a few years ago.

The core readership of the Cape Times resides in the city’s leafy suburbs.

When Alide Dasnois was dismissed in early 2014 after producing an obituary to Nelson Mandela which Time voted as one of the best in the world and after the newspaper’s beloved columnist and former editor John Scott had his column terminated because he is white and respected journalists like Max du Preez started distancing themselves from Sekunjalo Independent Media, it became fashionable to proudly proclaim that you had cancelled your subscription to a once-respected newspaper.

I was born in the early 1940s and a fellow resident in the retirement home where I live continued subscribing.

She was born some two decades earlier than me and is somewhat haughty.

When I questioned why she had not followed suit, she gazed down her nose –  all steely-eyed – and said: “Young man, I was doing the Cape Times crossword before you were born and I am not going to stop now.”

Madam & Eve

My retirement home subscribes to the Cape Times and my day would not be complete without my Madam & Eve fix.

As a ‘Maverick Insider’ I have just received this email:

Great news!  South Africa’s favourite cartoon strip, Madam & Eve, will be coming to Daily Maverick starting in August. Created by Stephen Francis & Rico, the satirical antics and political incorrectness of Madam & Eve have been amusing South Africans for the past 27 years.

Another old newspaper friend now appearing in Daily Maverick is the doyen of South African foreign affairs correspondents, Peter Fabricius who has, for more than two decades, been my trusted source of information on our country’s diplomatic situation.

The exodus of respected senior journalists like Fabricius from Sekunjalo Independent Media is unprecedented in this country’s media history and continues unabated.

The extent of that exodus is revealed in recently-published photograph on the IOL website.

Five of the eight senior news executives featured are former employees of Iqbal Survé.

The background to this media tragedy will be revealed in October when Tafelberg Publishers, headed by former journalist Gill Moodie, will release the eagerly-awaited book on this subject by Alide Dasnois and Chris Whitfield.

  • Ed Herbst is a veteran journalist who these days writes in his own capacity.