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An examination of Media24’s staff retrenchment action of 2020 in light of structural adjustments within the news industry and Covid-19.

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This study, situated within a media focused political economic framework, compares and contrasts the dominant narratives of Media24’s 2020 retrenchments in light of structural adjustments and Daily Maverick’s 2020 expansion and the launch of its print title, DM168, within the context of the transforming news industry and the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A qualitative approach was necessary and appropriate for this study, as the researcher was seeking to examine competing narratives (the dominant narrative of Media24’s staff retrenchment and Daily Maverick’s alternative narrative during the same time period), rather than any quantitative data or evidence. The data gathered for this desktop study consisted of texts published during the period 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020, thus covering Media24’s title closures and retrenchments on 7 July, the launch of their digital subscription on 13 July, and Daily Maverick’s launch of DM168 on 26 September. These texts were selected by the researcher on the basis of their ability to address the research objective. The researcher therefore employed purposive sampling, a method frequently used in qualitative research to identify and select data-rich cases in order to make optimal use of limited resources. The researcher was conscious of the possibility of bias, and therefore aimed to collect all published information possible during the specified time period, only eliminating articles that were clear reproductions of Media24’s press releases, with no significant additional information. The findings were grouped into convergent narratives, diverging contrasting narratives, and unique narratives. Broadly convergent narratives were the long-standing financial crisis in the news industry, the theft of revenue by Google and Facebook, social media as being inherently bad for news, the necessity of new business models that generate revenue from readers, journalism as an institution and as a professional, skilled activity, and ambivalent conceptions of change.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.