"Being a signed-in user, I know how much [users] depend on News24 to be informed about what is going on in the world, and I wanted to share this exciting news," says News24's editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson. 

"This is a landmark moment for all of us at News24, something we've been dying to [share] since we started this journey to build a sustainable model for quality journalism almost two years ago," he adds.

"Over the next few weeks, as we move closer to our official launch, we will tell you more about our subscription service and why we believe there has never been a more important time to invest in quality journalism than now."

Why this and why now?

According to Basson, News24 turned 21 in 2019. Since 1998, the platform has established itself as a trusted source for breaking news, sport, business and lifestyle content in South Africa.

"Throughout this period, we were free-to-read," says Basson. "[South Africans] have come to love and trust us for breaking the news. We want to strengthen the trust-relationship we have with [them]."

"We take great pride in the fact that we are South Africa's largest website. In June, more than 13 million unique users turned to News24 for the truth. Since the coronavirus hit our shores in early March, our audience has almost doubled. On any given day, we now have around 1.5 million unique users reading News24's journalism," Bassons adds.

According to the platform, for the second year in a row, the Reuters Institute at Oxford University confirmed that News24 was the most trusted source of news in South Africa. "This is a great privilege and responsibility we don't take lightly."

"Over the past four years, we have deepened our journalism by building on our breaking news offering with investigative journalism, in-depth analysis, podcasts, documentaries and top opinions:
  • We were key in bringing the '#GuptaLeaks' with our partners amaBhungane and the Daily Maverick in 2017, which had a direct impact on the toppling of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa.
  • We uncovered Bosasa's state capture long before it made headlines at the Zondo commission, for which our ace investigative reporter Kyle Cowan was rewarded with the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism in 2018, and
  • In 2019, our Tammy Petersen won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award for her 'compelling, exceptional and innovative' in-depth reporting on the gang wars pandemic in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats," says Basson. 
"To continue and expand our probing journalism even further, we need your investment," Bassons says. "The traditional media business model is all but broken. Just last week, Media24 announced the possible retrenchment of 500 journalists. This follows similar announcements by other media houses, including the SABC."

"Print media has all but reached the end of its glorious lifespan but we cannot let quality journalism die with paper and ink. We need to build a sustainable model for quality, digital journalism," Bassons adds. "Who will cover the magistrates' courts, town councils and police stations if we no longer have regional and local newspapers?"

"A sustainable model of quality, digital journalism cannot survive through advertising revenue alone. Although we will continue to ask South African corporates to send their marketing rands to local publishers, rather than the technology behemoths in Silicon Valley and Ireland, a new model simply has to include some form of reader revenue," he says.

"The model we have opted for is called freemium: a mixture of free and premium journalism in one hub. We understand that not all of you are in a position to take out a subscription; we will continue to publish breaking news in the public interest for free."

"We will tell you more about what you can expect from News24's subscription offering in the coming days and weeks," concludes Basson. 

For more information, visit www.news24.com. You can also follow News24 on Facebook or on Twitter.