‘DRUM’ set to stop printing, ‘Sunday Sun’ set to shut down as COVID-19 hits Media24


Media24 announced on Tuesday that it is considering shutting down a number of magazines and newspapers, consolidating some business operations and, sadly, job losses.

Drum magazine. Image: @DrumMag.

JOHANNESBURG – The impact of the coronavirus and the lockdown continues to be felt across the media industry, further affecting household staples.

Media24 announced on Tuesday that it is considering shutting down a number of magazines and newspapers, consolidating some business operations and, sadly, job losses.

DRUM magazine, which has been a staple for decades and was a symbol of defiance against apartheid in its early days, will no longer be in physical print but will instead be online only.

The media company said the planned interventions are expected to affect around 510 staff (with a proposed reduction of nearly 660 positions) out of a total staff of 2,971, mostly in the print media and distribution divisions.

“From the early days of the pandemic in South Africa, everything we have done has focused on two main priorities. First, the health and safety of our employees, and second, business continuity – hence job protection for as long as possible, said Ishmet Davidson, CEO of Media24.

“However, the pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline of print media, causing a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant drops in circulation and advertising since April. For many of our print titles, the benefits of past interventions to offset structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they are running out of options in this regard. “

You will find below the complete list of the titles concerned:

Magazine portfolio:

• Closing Move! and Hearst’s wallet (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Cycling, Running World).
• Publication DRUM in digital format only.
• A license agreement with publisher Helen Schöer to publish the parental titles (Baba & Kleuter and Your pregnancy) independently.
• Outsourcing of the editorial production of the remaining monthly portfolio (Fairlady, SARIE, SA Hunter / Jagter, True Love, tuis | home, Weg! | go! and Weg! Ry & sleep | go! Driving and camping) as well as the bimonthly Kuier.
• Reduce the frequency of monthly magazines to six issues per year, and eight issues for tuis | domicile, SA Hunter / Jagter and Magnum man.

The flagship weeklies Huisgenoot, YOU and Landbouweekblad will continue to be produced and published in-house.

Newspaper portfolio:

• Closing His op Sondag and sunday sun.
• Closing of the Eastern Cape edition of Son.
• Publication Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap in digital editions on weekdays only, available as full PDFs at Network24.
• Closure of four community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal: Amanzimtoti Fever, Eastern Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg fever.
• Consolidation Noordkaap and Kalahari Bulletin in a single journal, Noordkaap Bulletin, and Kroonnuus and Vrystaat Nuus in Vrystaat Kroonnuus. At the same time, by integrating Theewaterskloof Gazette in Hermanus time.
• Accelerate the digital transition of The witness.

Staff in media distribution, divisions and corporate departments will also be reduced due to the proposed reduction in print media operations.

“Even with a return to pre-COVID-19 economic levels, the impact of the pandemic on our print media operations will be unrecoverable. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to restructure our business now to reduce losses on our printed portfolio and allow us to focus on sustainability and releasing holdings for as long as possible, Davidson said.


This is yet another list of print publications that have been enjoyed by many South Africans who are experiencing numerous job losses and closures in an already struggling industry.

Earlier this year, Associated Media Publishing (AMP), which published titles such as Cosmopolitan announced its final closure.

In May, the board of directors of Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers Limited (CAT) announced that it had begun a process to phase out magazine publishing and associated businesses. CAT has published magazine titles such as Bona, Rooi Rose and Garden & Home.


While most of the magazines that exist today were first printed in the 80s, 90s and even 2000s, DRUM magazine happens to be a heritage title, which directly bridged the racial divide and broke apartheid law in its early days.

The magazine, originally named African Drum was started in 1951, just three years after the apartheid law came into force in 1948. It was founded by cricketer Bob Crisp and writer Jim Bailey.

It detailed the township’s urban life under the white minority for the black majority. Within a few years, the magazine hired black journalists and photographers, many of whom, like Peter Magubane and Nat Nakasa, would become legends in their own right.

Journalists of different races have often worked together and covered many stories of oppression by the regime, which has led to trouble with the law.

In 2004, the film Tumble was published, detailing the life of DRUM investigative journalist, Henry Nxumalo.

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