Independent Media to further review its structure

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Independent Media says it is confronted with the harsh reality of a changing landscape in the media industry. As a result, the company is compelled to make some difficult decisions that may impact headcount in order to navigate the evolving business situation. 

The traditional print industry, upon which Independent Media has built its legacy, is facing significant challenges. Advertising spend has shifted, and the advent of digital media has altered the dynamics of the market. While Independent Media has worked tirelessly to retain jobs over the past few trying years, and has instituted numerous measures, the time has come to face the difficult and hard choices that other media houses have already undertaken.

The company recently embarked on an inclusive process which asked management and staff for suggestions to cut costs and realise more efficiencies in the business. This has, for example, given rise to the introduction of a new weekend edition of Isolezwe (in place of a separate Saturday and Sunday edition); a single weekend title for the Cape – Weekend Argus, which saw the amalgamation of the Saturday and Sunday editions into a single weekend publication; the inclusion of Pretoria News into The Star, as well as other cost saving suggestions.

Impactful as it may be, it has not been enough to arrest the decline of revenues – what with the increase of print and paper, which has had the biggest impact on the business.

Echoing what is occurring around the world, to date, several South African media houses have already embarked on massive cut-backs, including the closure of stalwart magazines and newspapers and have, in some instances, outsourced their editorial and production of certain publications in an effort to stem the loss of revenue. 

Independent Media has not been spared from these challenges, but the company has managed to hold on – for as long as it could.  

For Independent Media, the Covid-19 pandemic, loadshedding, rising inflation and an overly stressed South African economy, have also exacerbated an already fragile environment. Circulation figures, whilst not experiencing radical decline, have, however, reduced quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year.  This has been further compounded by the significant drop in advertising budgets, as advertisers have sought alternative mediums, especially digital, to reach their audiences.

“To secure Independent Media’s future, therefore, we must now confront the realities of our situation head-on,” said Takudzwa Hove, CEO of Independent Media. “We understand the profound impact these decisions may have on our valued employees, and it is not something we take lightly. However, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company and continue delivering the news to our loyal readers, we have been forced by a series of industry challenges and prevailing conditions to now make these difficult calls, and go where our competitors have already had to go by trimming our human capital component.”

The company thanks its staff and colleagues for their support to date and the innovative suggestions that have been provided.  It will continue to proactively engage with stakeholders, including employees, unions and the wider public, to provide updates and ensure transparency throughout this process.  Independent Media is also exploring innovative strategies to adapt to the ever-changing media landscape and identifying new opportunities for growth.

As Independent Media makes these difficult decisions, the company remains steadfast in providing reliable, unbiased news to its readership.  Independent Media will continue to prioritise the public’s right to access accurate and relevant information. 

The company also asks its colleagues in the media to respect the process it is undergoing at present.