DAWN OF A NEW ERA
From Monday, the ‘Pretoria News’ will be incorporated into sister newspaper ‘The Star’
KENNEDY MUDZULI Acting Editor RENATA FORD
African News Agency
FRIDAY May 12, 2023. Remember the date. After 125 years, today marks the end of the Pretoria News and the Pretoria News Weekend as you know them. From Monday, May 15, 2023, the Pretoria News will be incorporated into The Star; this will be in the form of a branded Pretoria-focused section in The Star, to be distributed in Pretoria and its usual areas. Similarly, the Pretoria News Weekend will be incorporated into the Saturday Star. In essence, what this means is that the Pretoria News and Pretoria News Weekend will no longer be available as a free-standing publication. Our readers and advertisers will now get more, bigger and better news and advertisements, covering a vast area, than before. Our digital platform, www.pretorianews.co.za, as well as all the social media platforms are unaffected by these changes. It is common knowledge that Independent Media, like its print counterparts around the world, has had to adapt to a more digitally-focused working environment and era. The shift was exacerbated by the Covid-19 era, which forced us to adopt austerity measures to ensure the company’s survival as an alternative voice for the majority of South Africans. Many media companies in South Africa have had to take bold, difficult and often unpopular decisions to adapt to the prevailing conditions. To forge our own way forward, Independent Media called a meeting of executives and editors to discuss finding creative and sustainable solutions for the company that would minimally impact the livelihoods of its more than 1000 employees. The amalgamation of the Pretoria News with The Star and Pretoria News Weekend with the Saturday Star was the outcome of these processes, which also affected other newspapers within the group. It is important to mention that unlike at other media houses, the process was done without any job losses. To those who live, work, play or do business in Pretoria, the Pretoria News lives on in the digital world and as part of The Star. The newspaper will continue to be a witness to many historical events, in the memories of the many staff who have had the privilege of calling her home, and will now continue in the pages of our sister title, The Star. There is still some life in this “old girl” yet. Please support the Pretoria News by purchasing The Star and visiting pretorianews.co.za THE decision to close the printing of a newspaper title that has been in circulation for 125 years is undoubtedly a difficult one and is a historic moment, a sad moment, a moment of reflection, and one that signals a profound shift in the way we consume and engage with the media. The Pretoria News has been a part of my life for more than half my life. And if you ask anyone who has walked the corridors at 216 Madiba Street, they will all say the Pretoria News encapsulated some of the best days of their lives. I joined the Pretoria News in 1993 on a casual basis as a dark room assistant. I was employed full-time in February of 1994 on the picture desk as a DTP operator. And so began my journalism journey – each job change triggered by a change in technology. Echoes of former colleagues who were also passionate about the capital’s only Independent daily resound in the many conversations I have been part of in the past weeks as we journey down memory lane. Colleagues and friends who have been taken from us suddenly, the likes of Val Boje and Jos Charle, are missed dearly. I often wonder how a conversation with Val would have gone today. She loved this paper, as did Jos. Other treasured friends – there are simply too many to mention – have moved into other jobs, or taken different career paths, but there are those who remain. Current acting editor Kennedy Mudzuli, digital editor Damian Paterson – my partner-in-crime on the picture desk in the late 1990s – Zelda Venter, whose coverage of high court shenanigans is second to none, and the creative Dimpho Mokhoanatsi who brings the news alive on page 1 every night. Not to mention the subs who continue to work tirelessly in the background. Despite a small team, there are others also dedicated to serving up Pretoria’s news daily. Ntando, Baldwin, Goitsemang, Thobile, Jacques, and Mashudu, are passionate and proud of what they do and bring their A-game six days a week. But it’s like a challenging episode of Survivor – how do we outwit, outplay and outlast the slow and steady advance of technology? South Africa is not immune to what is playing out globally, where we have seen papers with long histories close their doors – permanently. So, while technology has been instrumental in shaping my own career, so too is it impacting the nature of publishing, in real-time. Newspapers must pivot to digital and rebrand themselves as publishers. With the rise of online media and the progression of technology, traditional print titles have struggled to maintain relevance in an ever-changing landscape. For those of us who have grown up with newspapers, the closure of a print title is the passing of an era. It hits hard. The ink that once flowed through our veins, as we pored over the pages of our favourite newspapers, is now being replaced by pixels and purls. I feel a fierce sense of loyalty to the Pretoria News – the title that lay the foundations of my 30-year career in journalism. But, while it is undoubtedly sad to see the Pretoria News in its current format no longer in circulation, we must be encouraged and excited that the brand we have come to love continues to live on in the digital space – reaching new audiences and engaging with readers and advertisers in innovative ways. As the printing press once revolutionised the dissemination of information, the internet has given rise to new forms of communication and new communities of content creators. While the medium may have changed, the core values of journalism – and our mission to inform and engage the public – remain as vital as ever. The closure of a print title is a reminder that nothing lasts forever, but it is also a testament to the enduring power of journalism and the importance of staying relevant in an ever-changing world. If anything, surviving the pandemic taught us the importance of being agile. As we close one chapter of media history, we look forward to exciting new developments in digital media, where the legacy of traditional print titles has an opportunity to evolve and thrive.