Closure of yet another publication worrisome - SANEF

Kate Skinner says HuffPost had done well in terms of attracting an audience

SANEF worried about closure of yet another publication  

20 July 2018

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) notes the closure of the Huffington Post hot on the heels of the closure of the AfroVoice just a few weeks ago. And in November last year we saw the closure of the print version of the Times.

On Monday, Media 24 and the HuffPost announced plans to end its South African licence. The companies launched the HuffPost South Africa as a partnership in November 2016, with Media24 operating the newsroom and driving the commercial aspect of the partnership.

In terms of attracting an audience the HuffPost has done well. It has consistently featured on the list of the top 10 news sites in South Africa and has drawn a readership of 1.63m unique users. Further, it has been an important new voice in South African journalism and has attracted new audiences. However, despite these successes, it has not been able to attract sufficient advertising revenue. 

SANEF notes that the HuffPost has not been uncontroversial. The site came under fire a year ago after publishing a controversial blog titled “Could it be time to deny white men the franchise”. The blog was supposedly written by feminist activist “Shelley Garland”. It later emerged that Garland was a pseudonym for political science graduate Marius Roodt, who said he wanted to expose the lack of fact checking in South African newsrooms. The incident led to the resignation of the editor. 

Overall, we record the worrying loss of jobs in our industry and the impact of this on the moral of journalists and the profession as a whole. Also, we note the loss of another voice in terms of issues of media diversity. Our industry may be thriving in terms of the successes of various investigative units but it is also, simultaneously, under enormous financial pressure. SANEF believes that this has the potential to erode the quality of news as a whole and its critical role in strengthening democracy.

Issued by Kate Skinner, SANEF Executive Director, 20 July 2018