Retrenchments announced at News24, SA’s largest online publisher

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Africa’s largest online publisher, 24.com, which publishes news site News24, has announced a “restructure” that will result in staff retrenchments.

The online publisher, owned by emerging markets internet giant Naspers, consists of 22 web channels with a combined audience of more than four-million monthly users. The company employs around 250 people, including editorial, technical and sales staff — making it the largest online media employer on the continent.

Speaking to Memeburn, 24.com General Manager, Geoff Cohen downplayed the job losses, saying it was a case of refocusing the company’s goals. Cohen explained that the company is undergoing a restructure to “focus” the business.

“We are restructuring 24.com as a whole. We have taken a look at the business and there are so many areas we’ve tried to play in and we just don’t have the space to focus on all areas equally,” Cohen said.

Cohen emphasised that the move is not revenue based, but rather an organisational strategy — “we don’t want to be an unfocused business”.

Cohen said he is uncertain on how many staff will be affected by the restructure, as the management team is currently in a consulting phase. According to Cohen, none of 24′s.coms 22 channels will be shut down. There will, however, be a “slimming down” across the board. The online operation also runs the websites of many Media24 newspaper titles, including the City Press website.

Cohen noted that retrenchment does not mean job losses all round, because some staff members will moved into other areas of Naspers. He still believes the online media space is a worthy investment and that 24.com has seen fast growth both in audience and advertising revenue.

“Online advertising is growing quite fast, I wish it could grow faster — but it is growing. We have also seen an increased growth in audience, we are looking for better ways to maximise that,” he said.

Two of the ways the online publisher hopes to achieve its new focus is through aggregation and user generated content.

“We want to use our position in Africa to help consumers find and engage with content easier. We also want to extend the platform to allow users to self publish. We want to open it up to ordinary people so they can tell their stories.”

This restructure comes within a month of Naspers-owned MIH Internet Africa shut down its e-commerce business, Kalahari in Nigeria and Kenya.

Sources close to Memeburn have confirmed that just under 10% of the 24.com staff were affected by the retrenchments, which leaves the company with a little over 100 employees.

Image: 24.com offices via Bandwidthblog

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