South African editors worried about the impact coronavirus will have on media publishing houses
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of media houses facing drastic falls in earnings as a result of dwindling advertising due to the coronavirus lockdown.
A statement issued by SANEF’a Executive Director, Kate Skinner, said (April 17, 2020) –
SANEF has learnt that Caxton, the publisher of the Citizen Newspaper, is the latest to register the fall in income by more than 60% as a result of the lockdown. We are concerned that this could lead to a temporary cut in salaries or a reduction in staff numbers, especially now that there has been a two-week extension of the lockdown.
We also note that the situation is affecting the company throughout the country, including its small-town newspaper operations, magazines, and Moneyweb.
Kate Skinner, SANEF’s Executive Director
The Caxton situation comes after SANEF expressed solidarity with colleagues in the Mail & Guardian and those in the Independent Newspapers and African News Agency (ANA) as the full impact of the coronavirus lockdown echoed throughout the industry.
SANEF believes that the importance of journalists and journalism in South Africa – and across the world – has never been stronger. Journalists are playing a critical frontline role in keeping the nation abreast of all developments around Covid-19. We know that audience figures have sharply risen as citizens constantly seek updates on the spread and containment of the disease.
SANEF once again reiterates our appeal to members of the public, corporates, donors, and government to support the media industry and journalism during this critical time – through the payment of subscriptions, membership fees, donations and sponsorships. We also call on business and government to continue to advertise to keep the sector afloat.
Again, SANEF urges media companies to seek creative ways to cut costs before resorting to newsroom cuts, including salary cuts. SANEF notes the significant attrition to posts – and cuts to salaries – over the years, which we believe has eroded quality journalism.
Also, SANEF is worried about the profound personal distress and insecurities this economic crisis is creating on the lives of journalists and their families.
We have raised financial sustainability challenges as one of the critical issues in our media industry. This has been an important focus in SANEF’s submissions to the retired Judge Kathy Satchwell Inquiry looking at Media Ethics and Credibility. We eagerly await the recommendations of the Inquiry and its contribution to possible ways forward with the ultimate purpose of ensuring quality, ethical, democracy-deepening journalism for all our citizens.