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This is big. News24 and Netwerk24 have announced that the online platforms of 11 English and 14 Afrikaans newspaper titles have now moved into the 24.com network. These include local, regional and national newspapers.
The papers now under the News24 banner include national title City Press, regional daily The Witness, and community titles such as Amanzimtoti Fever, Stanger Weekly, Greytown Gazette, Hillcrest Fever, Maritzburg Fever, Coastal Weekly, South Coast Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Edendale and Maritzburg Echo.
At face value that seems like bad news for the community titles in particular. News24 says however that readers can also customise their homepage to include a community newspaper of their choice.
“The addition of the nine local newspaper titles means our offering now includes local as well as regional and national news – making it that much more relevant for our readers,” says News24 Editor-in-Chief, Andrew Trench. “The addition of City Press and The Witness is also a great coup for us. The standard of journalism across these papers is impeccable and I am looking forward to sharing our digital space with them. While we are still in a testing phase with these papers on our platform, we hope to have ironed out technical difficulties, and have improved functionality and presence within weeks.”
“News24 is a highly credible news brand and probably the most successful online news platform in South Africa. We are very pleased that our website has found a home in their stable,” says City Press editor, Ferial Haffajee.
Netwerk24 meanwhile is now home to the following local newspapers: Bloemnuus, the Boland Gazette group Distrikspos, Eikestadnuus, Hermanus Times, Kalahari Bulletin, Kroonnuus, Noordkaap, Paarl Post, Tygerburger, Vista, Vrystaat, Welander, and Worcester Standard.
“We are delighted to be able to offer our readers local content through the addition of these 14 local titles. Unique content, particularly from towns where the mainstream media is not present, will enrich and personalise the Netwerk24 experience for our readers,” says Netwerk 24’s Editor-in-Chief, Adriaan Basson.
“Our mobile-friendly website also allows readers to comfortably access Netwerk24 on their tablets and smartphones – making their relevant, local and breaking news accessible wherever they are,” he adds.
Gustav Goosen, CEO of The SpaceStation, which recently announced it had taken over the digital media sales for Netwerk24, says that the addition of the localised audience means that advertisers are ensured of an even more engaged audience with a higher retention rate. “These additions, plus the roll-out of the new look mobile-friendly Netwerk24, means that readers are offered a much richer news experience – making for a loyal and returning user base.”
The decision to integrate the community sites into the News 24 and Netwerk 24 makes sense within the wider context of the launch of News24Wire, its digital-first press wire service. The service aims to fill the void left by the South African Press Agency (Sapa), which closed down in early February.
The agency comprises a 16-strong, national reporting team being built by Trench and led by former Sapa news editor Fienie Grobler. Integrating small, local papers into the wider online network makes it that much easier to use their content on the wire service and saves 24.com from having to maintain its own pool of journalists in those locations.
The integration of Afrikaans language titles into Netwerk 24 meanwhile opens up the wire services capabilities in that language.