Adriaan Basson | 2020: A year of losses and gains

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The News24 editors during their last virtual editors' meeting for 2020.
The News24 editors during their last virtual editors' meeting for 2020.

It is easy to focus on what we lost, but what did we gain in 2020? Let's pause to reflect before the new year begins, writes Adriaan Basson.

As 2020 draws to a close and the world reflects on this extraordinary, crazy year we are about to leave behind, it is tempting to focus only on the negatives and losses we suffered.

And we have lost so much: our health, our incomes, our families, our friends, our relationships, our freedoms. It has been an incredibly tough year for most of us. The devastating impact of Covid-19 on the world will be felt for decades to come.

We are still too close to the epicentre to really know how cataclysmic (or not) 2020 was in the history of mankind. What we can say with certainty, though, is that the year took a massive toll on our health, wellbeing and futures.

We are exhausted. We can feel it in our bones. We want to reset and start afresh.

But before we hit the red button for 2021 to start, let's pause for a moment and reflect on the gains we made, too. Let me start with myself.


2020 has taught me that we are much more resilient than we may think. We were quickly forced to change the way we work and live. Bedrooms and living rooms became boardrooms and TV studios. We incorporated our living partners into our work life.

Although this blurred the line between work and private time, it has forced us to consider our priorities and be more mindful about how and with whom we spend our time.

I have gained the knowledge that we are agile and adaptable to change. When we had no offices or parks or walkways, we had to think of creative ways to turn our living spaces into little havens for work and relaxation. Small things matter.

At News24, we are used to using technology to communicate. Our team is spread across the country, with substantial offices in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. But 2020 forced us to communicate even better and more clearly, using video and voice.

I feel closer to my team than I did before this year.

Every morning, before our diary meeting, we would have a short check-in to hear what is going on in people's lives. In 2020, I gained more insight into my colleagues' lives, struggles and joys.

If someone told me a year ago that we would cover a global pandemic from our living rooms in 2020, I would not have believed you. But when we had no option, our "can do" instincts took over and we made it work. I am so incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by so many brilliant journalists during this pandemic who realised this was probably the biggest story we would cover in our careers.

Subscription service 

In the middle of the pandemic, we implemented what was probably the biggest change in the 22-year history of News24. The introduction of a subscription service to access our investigative journalism and in-depth reporting came at the same time as readers all over the world realised the value of fact-based, truthful journalism during times of crisis.

I am incredibly grateful to each and every of News24’s more than 20 000 subscribers who have invested in our ability to expose wrongdoing and hold power to account.

You have enabled us to grow our newsroom at a time when all media companies are cutting costs and closing publications.

To reflect on the gains and losses of 2020, we asked 20 readers, analysts and leaders to share their stories of this truly extraordinary year. These stories will make you cry, rejoice and appreciate what we still have and the possibilities for change and growth ahead.

To a meaningful and kinder 2021.

- Adriaan Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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