Andrew Trench

A new era is dawning for News24

2015-03-24 11:20

Andrew Trench

For the last eight weeks or so we’ve been frantically busy with a daunting task – building from scratch a national newsroom for News24 to be ready to launch on 1 April.

Our urgency has been fuelled by the demise of the South African Press Association, the national news agency which has serviced the media here and abroad for more than 70 years, and which was a primary source of news on our platform. But it is not Sapa’s sad closure alone which inspired this move. The seeds were laid even before that became apparent.

News24 has built an enormous audience over the last decade. It is by far the most recognised and used online news brand in South Africa and thrives as South Africans accelerate away from print to digital – and particularly mobile – platforms in their consumption of news.

All of this places News24 in an excellent position to build on its reputation as South Africa’s number one source of breaking news, to naturally evolve into also being its leading provider of original, excellent journalism.

That’s what this new era is about.

We have built a team so far of some 16 journalists which include some of the best from Sapa’s ranks, including the agency’s former national news editor Fienie Grobler. We will have journalists in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein. We have also established a network of contributors across South Africa who will add to the reporting heft at our disposal.

From next week the team will begin providing original journalism from across South Africa and serving the News24 audience. This team is arguably South Africa’s most significant investment in a “digital first” news operation and marks a watershed moment in media here.

In the dozens of recruitment interviews I have been part of in building this team I asked most candidates a question which will give you a hint of what I hope is to come. The question was: How do we delight this audience beyond only servicing them with breaking news?

There were some great answers. Many of those who gave great answers are now in this team. Our mission is to make News24 the most thrilling, addictive, surprising and delightful home for original news.

Expect important breaking news, of course. But also expect investigative exclusives, stories of hope and inspiration, stories of the unexpected. Expect real journalism that is consequential.

We have a few other cards to play in our hand too. The journalism from this team will also be offered as a wire service under the News24Wire brand to replace the gap left by Sapa’s demise – but with a couple of twists.

We are offering our content for free to other digital publishers in South Africa. Yes, that’s right, free  as in gratis, nada, for nothing (print, broadcast and some other categories will be asked to pay). Emerging publishers, independent bloggers, even our direct competitors in mainstream media will be able to use our content on their digital platforms at no cost but subject to some terms and conditions which include linking back to the original story on our site.

Why are we doing this? Because we believe that quality journalism is important for democracy. We hope that by making this resource freely available that other publishers will be able to dedicate more of their own often-stretched resources to creating more quality journalism. When South Africa’s stories are told well and exhaustively, we are all better off.

Details on how to sign up for this service will be made public in the next couple of days.

We are also offering free access to our News24Wire distribution platform to select emerging and alternative publishers who are trying to gain a broader reach for their journalism. The first on board is the innovative GroundUp project run by Nathan Geffen and the respected former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois.

The stories they produce are unlikely to be done by any mainstream newsroom but they are interesting and important. They are delightful and therefore they deserve to be shared more broadly. We believe there is enough air for all of us to breathe.

So as this new era dawns I invite you to continue your journey with us. Thrilling times lie ahead and we promise not to disappoint you.

- Follow Andrew on Twitter.

* To send news items, media alerts or to  contact the News24 newsroom please email

* For inquiries about a commercial subscription to the New24Wire please contact our syndication partners Gallo Images on

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