||Brief outline by the Managing Director ...
The Sowetan is part of the powerful stable of Nail media companies. Nail was started in the early 1990s under the leadership of Dr Nthato Motlana and today Nail is headed by CEO Saki Macozoma. The Sowetan's history, however, dates back further than that. It was a newspaper that was distributed free to households in Soweto once a week 22 years ago. Today it is a highly profitable newspaper that commands respect beyond the borders of this country.
The Sowetan has changed and adapted many times in its history. It was a struggle newspaper in the early days. It was in touch with its readers' aspirations and it reflected the lives and viewpoints of black people under the yolk of apartheid. The Sowetan gave voice to the liberation struggle like no other newspaper could. Among its staff were highly motivated political activists who integrated themselves into the lives of the communities they wrote about. Sowetan, the oppressed people and the struggle were one. Anybody - from security policemen to businessmen to politicians - who wanted an understanding of what black people thought or were doing, had to read The Sowetan. The Sowetan was unique in this respect.
After the elections in 1994, things began to change. Political freedom was achieved and the lives of black people started improving. Access to education had been stifled under apartheid. Under a democratically elected government, access to education was widened and more people became more literate. More people had access to housing and health. Society as a whole improved. Business opportunities opened up for entrepreneurs and formerly discriminated against people became more educated and moved up in the corporate world. Sowetan had to adapt to this. Research was done and the research of other agencies was used. The content of the newspaper was improved to match the aspirations of the people growing up in the new South Africa. The Sowetan was also marketed differently. The newspaper moved to the cutting edge of newspaper technology.
The latest Apple Macintosh computers with double screens for the electronic layout and editing of pages was embraced. The Sowetan was the first South African newspaper to use this. Newspaper managers from the USA, England and other parts of SA visited The Sowetan to see how the equipment was used in a practical environment. The Sowetan also put in place the first fully digital photographic environment in the country and The Sowetan photographers became the envy of their colleagues. Journalists that accepted where newspaper technology was going, were equipped with laptops and cell phones so that they became highly mobile in terms of gathering news.
The Sowetan is forever adapting to new ways of doing things and to the new interests of its readers. The constant changes being implemented are a reflection of the thinking at the newspaper that nothing stays the same and there is always room for improvement no matter how successful the company may be at the time. Mike Tissong,
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