M&G announces new editors

M&G's new editor-in-chief Chris Roper (centre). (Skyler Reid, M&G)

M&G's new editor-in-chief Chris Roper (centre). (Skyler Reid, M&G)

M&G Media chairperson Peter Vundla made the announcement on Monday.

Roper is currently the Mail & Guardian Online editor. "Roper will drive our digital-first strategy which has already seen strong growth in our mobile, online and tablet audiences," Vundla said.

"We are also immensely pleased that Quintal is joining the company as editor of the M&G newspaper," Vundla said. Quintal leaves her position as editor of the Witness to join M&G Media.

"I couldn't be happier with the choice of Chris and Angela to take forward the project of building an M&G that is ready for the demands of the future, while remaining rooted in an extraordinary journalistic tradition," said outgoing editor-in-chief Nic Dawes.

Vundla said the appointments resulted from an exhaustive search informed by the business's strategic imperatives and represented a "structural shift at the M&G necessitated by our rapidly growing digital audience, the need to re-engineer processes that will drive a converged editorial strategy and the need to create a sound business model for quality journalism to thrive".

"We are particularly thrilled that Quintal has joined us. On the back of more than 20 years' experience, she brings with her editing experience from the Mercury and the Witness, as well as from other senior writing and editing positions she has held during her career. We are pleased to have her and have no doubt that she will play a pivotal role in helping the M&G maintain its leading position in the market," Vundla said.

As part of the restructuring, there have been other senior staff movements. Verashni Pillay, M&G Online deputy editor, has been promoted to associate editor and Alistair Fairweather, head of digital platforms, has been promoted to chief technology officer.

'Blazing the digital trail'
Roper said: "There's no more exciting place to work in the media than at that platform-agnostic intersection of print and digital, where audience meets brand and passion creates community. The M&G is the oldest news site in Africa, and nearly 20 years later, we're still committed to blazing the digital trail that the newspaper's quality journalism makes possible. This has resulted in a 60% growth in audience for M&G Online, a 2 000% growth in audience from mobile and an 81% growth in our overall publisher audience. I really look forward to working with our talented team in this new capacity and I welcome Quintal, who I know will ensure that quality journalism remains at the heart of our operation."

Quintal is looking forward to building on the work of her predecessors. "Writing in 2005 about his tenure [as editor] at the M&G, Mondli Makhanya said it was a telling sign of how far South Africa had come that the 'screaming, anti-establishment organ of the 1980s, had become one of the leading voices of political debate and the shaping of the republic we are building'. This is even more so today as South Africa moves into its 20th year of democracy with its many challenges, but also opportunity. More recently, Nic and the online team under Chris have ensured that the M&G has grown to become a leading and credible voice in the rest of Africa, and on different platforms. It is an incredible opportunity to help build on this rich legacy. In partnership with Chris, who becomes editor-in-chief, and the rest of the team, I am committed to upholding the independence, excellence and journalistic integrity that have made the M&G what it is today and to ensure that it expands and thrives," she said.

After about nine years at the M&G, more than four of them as editor-in-chief, Dawes announced his resignation in May and will step down on August 7. "I have worked with Roper in academic, magazine and digital news environments throughout my career and over the past four years we have collaborated closely on the development of the M&G Online, and on our wider digital strategy. The record of audience growth, and of convergence in our news operations during this period speaks for itself. The new structure will enable Roper to accelerate the process we embarked on together.

"Quintal and I shared an office space in Parliament's press gallery a decade ago, and I was able to observe first-hand, and learn from her drive, commitment, and insight into the political and institutional dynamics of this country. I know that she will guard, sustain and develop the reputation of the Mail & Guardian for great journalism, even as it is delivered in new ways and to new audiences," he said.

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