To my mind
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. co.za 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 Fin24.co.za.
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...”