To my mind

Finweek English Edition - - Letters - BY RIKUS DEL­PORT rikusd@fin­

A MAG­A­ZINE ED­I­TOR once said edi­tors knew bet­ter than their read­ers what they wanted to read. In times gone by, that may have been the case, but in the cur­rent era our read­ers de­ter­mine what they want to read.

This is truly an in­vid­i­ous po­si­tion for the print me­dia – news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines such as Fin­week – to be in. For ex­am­ple, take the race is­sue, which we and other me­dia play­ers re­port on ex­ten­sively. Ev­ery time there’s the slight­est hint of race in one of our re­ports – from what­ever an­gle – we’re swamped with read­ers’ let­ters, from across the en­tire racial spec­trum.

A few weeks ago on our web­site fin24. we pub­lished a let­ter from Bonga Bongani in which he ac­cused his em­ployer of racism. Within an hour, thou­sands of peo­ple had read it on the In­ter­net. It was by far one of our most provoca­tive con­tri­bu­tions, which stirred up a ver­i­ta­ble hor­nets’ nest.

The same hap­pened last week when our colum­nist, Vic de Klerk, (on the same web­site) said whites should stop com­plain­ing as they were the group en­joy­ing most of the ben­e­fits from SA’s eco­nomic re­vival. As ex­pected, it raised many com­ments. Once again, this ar­ti­cle reg­is­tered the most hits on the web­site and again the re­ac­tion cov­ered the full range of views. Many dis­agreed with De Klerk.

What does this tell us? It means that at last we’re start­ing to talk to one an­other; that we’re pre­pared to dis­cuss our fears and prej­u­dices, even if they are some­times based on mis­con­cep­tions. The de­bate doesn’t al­ways un­fold in our favour – of­ten against all ex­pec­ta­tions. Some­times it even re­sults in mud­sling­ing. But at least we’re ac­knowl­edg­ing one an­other’s pres­ence, hope­fully to ul­ti­mately get to know one an­other bet­ter.

We don’t re­ally have much of a choice other than to ac­cept our dif­fer­ences, or even prej­u­dices, how­ever deeply rooted, and to work on them. The me­dia play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in that, not be­cause they try to pre­scribe what their au­di­ence should or shouldn’t do, but be­cause they of­fer a plat­form where ideas can be ex­changed and thoughts shared, even though th­ese of­ten end up in a slug­ging match. And of course we’re go­ing to make mis­takes. But that’s fine – pro­vided we don’t stray off track.

What’s im­por­tant is that we must never stop talk­ing to one an­other.

THIS IS MY LAST is­sue as Ed­i­tor. I leave you in the com­pe­tent hands of Marc Hasenfuss, who will take over the reins next week. I will be mov­ing on as gen­eral man­ager of the newly formed Fin Busi­ness Me­dia Com­pany that houses both Fin­week and

The past six years or so have been filled with change and ex­cite­ment. Things weren’t al­ways easy, but what en­cour­aged me were the peo­ple I came into con­tact with on a daily ba­sis.

As an ed­i­tor you in­evitably meet many per­son­al­i­ties – from the most in­no­va­tive busi­ness­men to the most in­flu­en­tial politi­cians.

But the real chal­lenge was to try to put a mag­a­zine to­gether week af­ter week that would sat­isfy and please our read­ers. Your feed­back kept us on our toes and made my work worth­while.

My other great source of en­cour­age­ment has been my col­leagues. Out­siders might not al­ways re­alise it, but a pub­li­ca­tion such as this con­sists of much more than just its edi­to­rial staff. It also has its sales staff, mar­ket­ing peo­ple, those who take care of cir­cu­la­tion and a mass of pro­duc­tion and other per­son­nel who go to enor­mous trou­ble – of­ten work­ing hard un­til very late at night – to en­sure that the mag­a­zine reaches the shelves on time each week.

Be as­sured that Fin­week is in good hands. Any busi­ness is only as good as its peo­ple. And in this re­gard, Fin­week out­shines its com­peti­tors. You’d have to go far to find a more ded­i­cated and com­pe­tent group of peo­ple.

I don’t want to sound pre­sump­tu­ous, but for­mer Pres­i­dent Nelson Man­dela in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Long Walk to Free­dom summed up my feel­ings best when he wrote: “I have tried not to fal­ter; I have made mis­steps along the way. But I have dis­cov­ered the se­cret that af­ter climb­ing a great hill one only finds that there are many more hills to climb...”

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