News24 to launch vertical focusing on business and technology in March.
This comes on the back of its international owner, Insider (previously Business Insider) not renewing the five-year licensing agreement with Media24, which owns News24 and Business Insider SA. Business Insider South Africa officially closes its doors on 28 February.
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For the past five years, Business Insider South Africa has been the go-to place for consumers to get a smart take on how and where to spend their money or get the latest scoop on the bizarre investments of international businesses. It had something for everyone; from business and personal finances to technology, travel, trends and lifestyle.
News24 editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson said the closure of Business Insider SA is not indicative of its successes or failures; they are following the terms of the contractual agreement. He said they will continue covering business and technology news.
“We’ve learnt valuable lessons over the past five years and will continue to cover business and technology for a new generation of leaders on News24. News24 is soon celebrating 30 months of having a subscription service and has shown the success of quality journalism. To date, we have more than 70 000 paid subscribers and we believe the addition of a new vertical will grow that even further,” he told frayintermedia.
Business Insider South Africa had five permanent employees, however, three of those positions were vacant. Basson said of the two permanent employees, one decided to take a voluntary severance package, while the other will be absorbed into the News24 team. Basson said the freelancers who contributed to Business Insider SA will continue to write for News24.
It also had between 200 000 and 300 000 unique users, which will hopefully migrate to News24 as the news site launches its new business and technology vertical in March.
Changes in the industry
Insider has a presence in a number of other regions including Spain, Netherlands, India, Japan, and Asia among others. There are no confirmed reports of the closure of any of its other editions, but some change is on the horizon for the internationally-acclaimed news site.
According to an article by American news site, Axios, Insider is restructuring its newsroom to bring more content in front of its paywall. This, it says, is part of a broader effort to get ahead of any economic turmoil in the coming months. The intention is to drive more traffic to its site in a bid to attract more ads.
According to the article, stories at the front of the paywall will be general news and explanatory journalism that reaches a wider audience and help them digest major business trends.
News behind the paywall will focus more exclusively on big businesses, prominent people and personal finance or career growth stories. Insider’s global editor-in-chief, Nicholas Carlson was quoted saying:
“[I]f you have juicy, fascinating details about anybody who has a big name or really matters to a lot of people, they will hand us their credit card information.” He told Axios that aspirational content, or “recipes for success,” continue to help sell new subscriptions.
All these alterations will help the company grow its subscription business long-term, he told Axios.
Something similar has been happening at News24, too.
In 2020, News24 introduced a paywall, and within the first year, it garnered some 40 000 subscribers. News24 is the most trusted and widely read news brand in South Africa according to the 2022 Reuters Digital News Report.
Expanding on the findings of the report, deputy CEO at Code4Africa, Chris Roper said:
“Trust is increasingly the currency foregrounded by South African news sites. Its most benign iteration is as a journalistic brand value, but in more invidious manifestations this has become a way of driving ideological partisanship.”
He said when News24 introduced a paywall, it changed its slogan from “Breaking News. First.” to “Trusted News.First.” signifying its position in the South African online news industry.
Commenting on online news and News24’s role in it, Basson said it’s clear that the future of quality journalism is digital subscription content.
“There is really no point in giving away your content for free; it undermines the value of journalism, and is not a financially viable model, unless you have a blesser with deep pockets. The need for trusted news is higher than ever; if you can distinguish yourself as a trusted source of journalism, and implement a subscription service that is easy to understand and access, you have a good chance of success.”