After the Bivings Report released an analysis of the Top 100 newspapers in America and their use of the web last August, I volunteered to take a look at how their South African counterparts were doing.
The SA study kept moving down and along my ‘To Do’ list until, in a last-gasp attempt to clear my list (and my conscience) before I logged off for the Christmas break, I solicited the help of Jethro Goko, a South African editor participating in our Journalism Leaders Programme . Jethro, who edits The Herald in Port Elizabeth, asked a staffer, Duncan Reyneke, to help collect the data. Today, I finally got around to writing some of it up and will keep posting bits as time allows and in response to questions.
The chart here shows the preliminary results of our analysis of the websites of the 19 daily newspaper titles in SA, as monitored by South African Advertising Research Foundation (Amps 2006A). Whatever else it shows – and I’d certainly welcome your insights – it’s clear that South African newspaper websites have a way to go.
While the country's largest circulation (tabloid) daily doesn't have a website at all, there is evidence of some experimentation with multimedia amongst the traditional titles. Notably, Media 24’s Die Burger, introduced audio and video last year.
However, in the main, South African dailies seem to be ignoring the key opportunity the Internet offers – the ability to engage in dialogue and collaborate with users. Or, to paraphrase Dan Gilmore, most still see news as a lecture, not as a conversation. That implies listening at least as much as you speak.
The papers, listed in order of readership and market share, are:
Daily Sun 12.4 none
Sowetan 4.9 http://www.sowetan.co.za/
Isolezwe 2.3 http://www.isolezwe.co.za/
The Star 2.2 http://www.thestar.co.za/
Die Burger 1.6 http://www.dieburger.com/
The Citizen 1.5 http://www.citizen.co.za/
Beeld 1.4 www.news24.com/Beeld/Home/
Daily News 1.1 http://www.dailynews.co.za/
Cape Argus 1.1 http://www.capeargus.co.za/
Daily Dispatch 0.8 http://www.dispatch.co.za/
Cape Times 0.8 http://www.capetimes.co.za/
Daily Voice 0.7 none
The Mercury 0.7 http://www.themercury.co.za/
The Herald 0.6 http://www.theherald.co.za/
Die Volksblad 0.4www.news24.com/Die_Volksblad/Home/
Witness 0.4 http://www.witness.co.za/
Pretoria News 0.3 http://www.pretorianews.co.za/
Business Day 0.3 http://www.businessday.co.za/
DF Advertiser 0.2 none
Note: In order to compare findings with those of similar studies of newspaper title websites in other countries – such as Brazil, Denmark and Italy, New Zeeland and the UK - we did not include the three most popular news portals in South Africa. Independent Online and News24 aggregate the content from the Independent News & Media and Naspers-owned Media24 titles, respectively, while the Mail & Guardian Online is linked to a weekly paper. (Looking at the weekly papers' sites is on my ‘To Do’ list for this year...)
In the meantime, what do you think the Internet use by SA's daily newspapers shows?