Home PodcastJulie Alli Daily Maverick’s Shutdown Highlights Media’s Precarious Position

Daily Maverick’s Shutdown Highlights Media’s Precarious Position

by Thaabit Kamaar
Image Source: IOL

South Africa – Rebecca Davis, a journalist with the Daily Maverick, remarked on the considerable confusion and speculation surrounding media outlets’ recent decision to suspend operations for 24 hours. Despite receiving various responses, the overall message, outcome, and impact have been positive.

The shutdown’s objective was to draw attention to the urgent and dire state of journalism and media, emphasising the potentially catastrophic effects it can have on the economy and democratic processes within the country.

Moreover, Davis pointed out that around 70% of the media workforce has dwindled in the past decade due to insufficient financial backing from the public, corporate entities, and government.

“Outside of the industry, a lot of people don’t realise just how precarious the situation is. That is why we took the fairly extreme step of shutting down Daily Maverick yesterday just for one day to try and make this point to the public … There has been this incredible revenue reduction towards the media in a way that is becoming frankly unsustainable.”

Additionally, the shutdown aimed to highlight the critical need for financial support for other reputable and local news organisations.

“It was also a campaign that is part of a project that we’re launching to try and build literacy around media in this country. To try and get people to understand how the media works, how the business model is failing and to understand how they can help give us support.”

In a post on X, The Daily Maverick affirms that it has managed to avoid laying off any staff due to its efficient working model. Nevertheless, it acknowledges limitations in expanding its newsroom.

The Importance of Journalism in Society

The Daily Maverick emphasised journalism’s indispensable role in sustaining and nurturing democracy, asserting that the two are inseparable.

Through the temporary shutdown of their media outlet for a single day, they aimed to stress its crucial role in public service, including exposing criminal activities, meticulously analysing information, and uncovering the truth.

Davis emphasised that journalists’ responsibility is to investigate, educate, and illuminate societal issues, yet they rely on revenue from various sources to maintain their operations.

This emphasis on journalism’s significance stems from its function as democracy’s watchdog, which is crucial for holding those in power accountable and ensuring transparency. Without it, the foundational principles of democracy would erode, leaving citizens uninformed and susceptible to abuses of power.

“I also have to hope that we’ll reach a kind of tipping point where people understand how much they need journalism and how much they need media … We’re still here clinging on. I just hope that the public will come to understand that the role we play is kind of non-negotiable in a democracy.”

For this cause, she advocates for the public to back local media by utilising and subscribing to their platforms, for businesses to contemplate directing their advertising expenditures towards media houses, and for the government to implement legislative support and incentives.

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