SA web users flock to local news site

News24, the breaking news service in the 24.com stable, has become South Africa’s first website to record more than one million unique South African visitors in a month. But is News24‘s achievement an indicator that South Africa is more digitally developed than previously believed?

There are an estimated four million internet users in South Africa, therefore News24 reaches one in four online South Africans. This is according to international statistics group Nielsen//Netratings’s list of the most visited local websites for October this year. The group also recently reported that News24 accounts for 16,6% of South Africans’ total time spent online.

Elan Lohmann, News24 publisher, said: “Online media is often regarded by marketers and traditional media executives as not yet on the map, but our reach is continuing to grow in the local market. News24‘s achievement is a significant event for the entire industry. It shows that there are a mass of South Africans who require their news content online.”

He added: “More importantly, perhaps, it shows that the local internet market is coming of age as a viable mass-communication medium.

“We believe that connectivity will continue to improve at an increasing rate in South Africa and that news websites will have the most to gain. Global giants like Facebook, MySpace, Google and YouTube may steal away local users to their services, but nobody can do local news better than we can on home soil.

News24 is well-placed to continue to lead the wave of the expected surge in the growth of the South African internet market in coming years.”

Lohmann also said that News24 has held a dominant position in the local web for some time and that this gap has widened over the past year. “We have stuck to doing what we do best and it’s gratifying to see that our readers approve. Our growth rate from 681 000 local users in November 2006 has exceeded the market aggregate.”

Jannie Momberg, News24 editor, attributes the site’s success to a strategy focused on breaking news and compelling content. “It has been our focus to ensure our readers are kept up to date with the fast-paced news cycles of the 21st century,” he said. “News24‘s content is also available via mobile phone and on DStv channel 299, providing more South Africans with the opportunity to access news when they need it.

“Furthermore, we have made the News24 experience more relevant to our users. MyNews24.com, where we publish stories written by our readers, has attracted over 80 000 users per month. This is a remarkable achievement when we consider that it was only launched in May this year and a clear indicator that South Africans are embracing the digital revolution of Web 2.0.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.


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