Roller-coaster ride into a new media landscape

Published, May 13 2016 by Sandy Naude, Cape Argus at 10:03am

Under Sekunjalo’s ownership, Independent Media has evolved rapidly, says Sandy Naudé.

A media career largely focused on advertising and marketing across a number of titles and groups found me in the position of general manager of the Cape region for the then-Independent Newspapers, with a dash of digital, when our group was sold to Sekunjalo.

Prior to the sale, Independent Newspapers was mired in cost-cutting and a lack of investment, particularly in digital, due to the challenges faced by our former foreign owners.

Fast-forward to the end of 2013 and new ownership.

Regional management (our silos), where incidentals ordered by out-of-town execs were cost-coded to their regions, disappeared to build the national structure.

Our new company moved into a new space – a South African space – where all readers and advertisers would have a voice and an opportunity to grow their dialogues.

Regional silos were transformed into national structures to maximise sales opportunities and the sharing of projects.

National conferences and town hall meetings brought commercial and editorial teams together with the same objective to transform our business by building our brands and commercial pitches.

A specialist government cluster was formed to handle the specific commercial requirements for the government. Editors collaborated with commercial teams and agreed on innovative styles for advertisers.

The mojo – or mobile journalism – studio was launched and new titles with a focus on vernacular were introduced.

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Sekunjalo EduJazz celebrates 16 years of home-grown talent

Published, May 11 2016, issued by EspAfrika

The Sekunjalo Edujazz Concert is set to entertain and empower the Mother City once again, with this year’s edition of the annual fundraising event taking place at the Artscape Theatre on Saturday, 4 June 2016 at 7.30pm.

Celebrating its 16th year of supporting local talent, Sekunjalo Edujazz is proud to announce Jimmy Nevis as the headline artist for this year’s fundraiser. Born and raised in Cape Town, Jimmy Nevis is a young alternative pop singer, songwriter and producer. Jimmy has received extensive commercial radio success in South Africa with airplay of a number of hit singles including fan-favourites “Heartboxing”, “Balloon” and “7764”.

Also performing on the night are two exciting home-grown jazz bands; The Belhar Music Collective, a sensational group of young people who began their musical journey in church and have already performed at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and the Artscape Jazz Festival; and The Edujazz Big Band, comprising top music students from the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and Rondebosch Boys High School, and fresh off their performance at the 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. This year’s mentors are Keith Tabisher (FET Curriculum planner for the Western Cape) and renowned jazz educator, Terrence Scarr.

This annual jazz concert not only supports local music development through fundraising, but also serves as a platform for young aspiring musicians from underprivileged communities to showcase their talent on the big stage. These young bands are given the chance to work with established headline artists and some of the greatest music educators that South Africa has to offer. Extensive workshops are conducted by their mentors to help musicians foster skills and experience in live performances.

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Transformation isn’t about race, it’s about excellence

Published, May 10 2016, by Kevin Ritchie, The Star at 10:03am

As the first white editor of The Star in 13 years, Kevin Ritchie wasn’t sure he was right for the job – but he soon learnt otherwise.

Johannesburg – The voice on the other end of the line was clear: “I’ll use a sporting analogy with you: it’s your job to lose.”

To be honest I didn’t believe either the promise or the person behind it for a moment. I had a job to do, it was that simple. That morning, Makhudu Sefara, a man who I had come to respect immensely, had resigned as editor of The Star.

I had been his deputy every step of the way for two-and-a-half years.

As of 12 hours earlier I was now the acting editor of The Star – and almost incidentally the first white editor of Independent’s 128-year-old flagship title in almost 13 years.

It faded to irrelevance with the work ahead; the next edition had to come out, the one after that planned; staff needed to go on leave, staff needed to be hired, advertising needed to squeeze in last-minute ads, the ombud was looking for responses to complaints, lawyers were at the door, reporters wanted to know why their stories had been cut or badly subbed – in other words situation normal on a big metro daily.

The man on the phone was Iqbal Survé, the executive chairman of Independent Media. I’d met him a couple of times before, we’d chatted, but never about career prospects.

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Sekunjalo subsidiary, AEEI boosts earnings per share, grows footprint

Published, May 05, 2016 by Business Report at 07:30am

Empowerment company African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) boosted earnings per share by 67 percent to 14.04 cents for the interim period to February as it continued to grow its acquisition footprint.

The group said revenue increased 18 percent to R305 million, mainly due to growth achieved from the marine and technology divisions, with profit before tax increasing by 61 percent to R74m compared with R46m in the last period.

Chief executive Khalid Abdulla said the results exceeded its expectations and defied an environment dominated by a weak rand and a slowdown in the economy.

Abdulla said the company’s diversifying strategy had paid off with the group shifting its focus to expanding in Africa and internationally.

Diversifying
“We have managed to achieve more than 40 percent return year on year to our shareholders. It is because of the strong relationships we have with our customers, efficient management and the systems we put in place that has allowed the company to perform so well over a long period of time,” Abdulla said.

The company, formerly known as Sekunjalo Investments, said it planned to continue to grow organically and make more acquisitions.

In February, AEEI completed a R125m deal to acquire a 25 percent plus one share stake in Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), the South African subsidiary of Swedish Defence and civil security company, Saab.

AEEI also bought shares in Sygnia Asset Management in October for R10m, the value of which has subsequently increased by 80 percent.

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Media for social change

Published, May 03, 2016 by Dr Iqbal Survé, Cape Times at 14:27pm

Independent Media is not simply a news organisation, it’s the centre of a media revolution, says Dr Iqbal Survé.

Within this body of transformative media approaches is a beating heart advocating for social change and an ardent desire to represent the South African voices of those who have previously been repressed or ignored. Our tumultuous socio-economic climate has made many of us cynical about believing any, if not all, social change claims. However, over the course of Independent Media’s “reboot”, there is a clear timeline indicating its intentions. And it clearly says we are agents of social change and unapologetic about it.

Here’s an example: Cape Argus launched a new collaborative editorial initiative called#TheDignityProject. The aim is to restore the dignity of those who struggle on the streets, the homeless, the desperate and disparaged. It’s a 15-part daily series that seeks to highlight the struggles many homeless people face and what they go through every day to survive on the streets. What the Cape Argus explores is our reality; the factors that directly interact with our lives, the matters that truly affect us.

“We have all these misconceptions about the people who live in our city,”says Gasant Abarder, editor of the Cape Argus. “We pass them every day and we never bother to hear their side of the story…

I came back to the office and I said to my guys: ‘There are so many stories out there about these people, who we ignore every day. Let’s do something’.” The #RacismStopsWithMecampaign was launched on February 11, using Independent’s newspaper and online platforms to fight the scourge. Independent Media, and its parent company,Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, teamed up with the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) and launched a campaign against all forms of racism by promoting active citizenry. The campaign has featured in all 20 newspaper titles and digital platforms, with Independent Media also encouraging debate and discussion on public platforms, in schools and universities throughout the country.

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