Your news moves into a new era
“Howzit, please let the guys know their security is here and ready for them,” a colleague from our HR department told me as I walked into the office on Tuesday morning, December 4 last year.
“For sure,” I responded and subsequently passed on the message to our politics team.
The two journalists were preparing to go out to cover the Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting – the last one of the year – to be held at Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton that morning.
(They would eventually leave the marathon meeting at 11pm).
I carried on with my day. And later it dawned on me – as strange as it may seem at times, the survival of our craft as journalists depends on our ability to practically adapt to the ever-changing environment under which we work.
Hiring guards to escort reporters to assignments or areas that are potentially volatile should not be a norm for a newsroom operating in a democracy.
Yet, our experiences have taught us better.
In fact just days before, at the same venue, a colleague was attacked by a group of politically motivated thugs who threatened to kill him because they took exception to his work.
That same week, two journalists were robbed at knifepoint in the same area – the umpteenth attack on members of our team on assignment in 2018 alone.
Why am I telling you this? No, it is not to solicit sympathy.
I tell you this to demonstrate that the work we do exposes us to the best and worst our world has to offer.
Yet I want to reaffirm to you that even when the terrain gets rough, our commitment to bring you quality journalism remains unwavering.
We believe in the power of a vigilant, local media that empowers you with all you need to know to make informed decisions about your immediate world.
Be it the political intricacies of local council, crime in your neighbourhood, developments (or stagnation) in our local economy or simply where to have the best cup of coffee in town, we have captured the daily pulse of our city.
We do this in the spirit of promoting a transparent society, one of the pillars of a healthy democracy.
But here’s a sobering reality. The digital era has, in the last decade, increasingly disrupted the traditional media space as we knew it.
Be that as it may, the good news is that journalism as a craft is here to stay.
Our digital audience figures confirm that similarly to global trends, more and more of you are consuming our content online.
This means we must adapt and align our efforts with your consumption patterns.
Of course this does not mean we neglect our loyal print readers – far from it.
It simply means that ours is no longer a world where journalists go out to cover a story to have it published in a newspaper the next day.
You want us to tell you the story as it happens, in depth and in all its dimensions.
As a media company, this also means we must invest in the best possible skills and technologies to meet your needs.
Such investment means we can no longer continue to create premium content only to give it away free.
Doing so is untenable in the long run.
As a media group we have had to relook at and adapt our business model to remain sustainable.
It is for this reason that on February 4 2019 The Herald and Weekend Post will introduce a paid subscription offering on our website.
This means that for less than R2.50 a day, you can access our premium content produced by award-winning journalists in this newsroom as well as from those of other Tiso Blackstar publications such as Times Select and Sunday Times.
In the interest of promoting free flow of information, we will continue to have free-toread content on the site.
However, exclusive and indepth content, including that from your favourite columnists, will be accessible via the premium section.
We are fully mindful of the financial pressures on consumers.
This is why we offer various packages, tailor-made to suit your consumption needs at a reasonable cost.
Our aim is to bolster the work of this long-standing institution.
The Herald and Weekend Post brands are an important platform that magnifies your voice in the public discourse in Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape.
This is wholly thanks to you, our reader, who has supported us throughout the years.
For that we are incredibly grateful.
We trust that you will walk this next exciting chapter with us as we commit to serving you, our community, and to hold power to account, without fear or favour.
Nwabisa Makunga is editor of The Herald and Weekend Post.