/ 2 April 2020

Sanef stands in solidarity with the M&G and other media houses facing financial challenges

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) stands in solidarity with our colleagues from the Mail & Guardian – and all media entities facing difficult financial times. Khadija Patel, editor-in-chief, has stated that their present income will not adequately cover the cost of producing the M&G, including the payment of salaries next month.

SANEF is aware that media operations across the country are struggling to cope with our difficult financial environment, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. For some years our industry has faced financial constraints – due to, among other issues, media’s traditional reliance on advertising and the fact that advertisers have fled the industry to online tech giants, Google and Facebook. The economic effect of the Coronavirus on an already stagnant economy will make matters even more difficult.

However, SANEF believes that the importance of journalism in South Africa – and across the world – has never been stronger. Government’s decision to include journalists as part of essential services to critically report on the spread and containment of the disease stands testimony to this. Journalists have played a critical role in keeping the nation abreast on all developments around Covid 19. Various public, private and community media operations have run impactful campaigns to help efforts to fight the pandemic.

We call on members of the public, corporates, donors and government to support the media industry and journalism during this critical time – through the payment of subscriptions, membership fees, donations and sponsorships. We call on corporates and government to continue to advertise.

SANEF urges media companies, generally, to seek creative ways to cut costs before resorting to newsroom cuts. SANEF notes the significant attrition to posts over the years which has eroded quality journalism.

We have raised financial sustainability challenges as one of the key issues in our media industry. This has been an important focus in our submissions to the Kathy Satchwell Inquiry looking at Media Ethics and Credibility.

We note a shift from relying on advertising to readers paying for the news, either through membership – a promising new news model – or subscriptions. Along with this, donor funding has played a key role, and advertising is still a source of revenue. The new business models have seen organisations use several streams of income to achieve financial sustainability.

We eagerly await the recommendations of the Inquiry and its contribution to possible ways forward with the ultimate purpose of ensuring quality, democracy-deepening journalism for all our citizens.

Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information please contact:

Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852

Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415

Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, (078) 041-9528

Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor (083) 582-1734

Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za