SA's oldest independent newspaper stops the presses and goes digital

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Grocott's Mail, South Africa's oldest independent newspaper, has stopped printing due to financial constraints brought on by Covid-19 - but it will continue to live on online.

"The year of the 2020 pandemic has put our community under great financial strain that has impacted all facets of our daily lives and fundamentally changed the way businesses will operate in the future. And so while our partners' support allowed us to continue to publish, the rapid fall in revenue has unfortunately left us unable to continue as a going print concern in 2021," said the publication.

In May 2020, the Mkhanda-based community paper celebrated 150 years of publishing.

In a joint statement released with Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies in December, it announced the publication would be going digital, through GMDirect. It would be headed up by the university's journalism department. 

READ | 76% of South Africa’s businesses report revenue loss as Covid-19 bites

"This commitment will see GMDirect and associated digital platforms being taken on by the school as an academic and community engagement project. GMDirect will continue to provide Makhanda-focused journalism across our digital platforms - our weekly PDF edition, GM Live website and social media.

"We encourage you to continue supporting the work of GMDirect as we embark on the School of Journalism and Media Studies project to inform, educate, listen to our town's pulse and respond," read the statement. 

The SA National Editors' Forum expressed its sadness over the closing of the print publication.  

"It is very sad news but probably inevitable given these very tough times particularly for the print media. The positive, however, is that the website contains a lot of very valuable information. What will be critical going forward is that this is maintained," it said.

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