Rob Rose Editor: Financial Mail

Dear reader,

After the most turbulent year in most of our lives, the Financial Mail this week published its final edition for the year — our newsmaker of the year — as a digital edition only. At the bottom of this e-mail, you’ll find some instructions on how to access it. Our first edition next year will be available on January 14, both in physical print and as an e-edition.

At one point, it wasn’t clear we’d get here. Many iconic publications closed down this year, from Cosmopolitan to Men’s Health, and a media industry already under strain before Covid-19 was always going to be a soft target. During the hard lockdown, the government’s inconsistent rules on publishing meant we had to publish five consecutive editions that were available online only. In some ways, it was a blessing, as it helped acclimatise many of our readers to downloading e-editions and reading them on a tablet or computer. But many of us were also mightily relieved when we could begin printing the FM again — many people wrote to me to say they’d missed the feel of the print, the layout and graphics, the sense of order you get from seeing a carefully constructed magazine prioritising the issues of the week. At the same time, it’s also clear we have brought in thousands of new readers since this time last year — the FM’s number of online readers has grown 260% in the past year. To you, I can only say a heartfelt thank you for staying with us during this time — even when you disagree with us. And for e-mailing me or messaging me to let us know your thoughts, good and bad.

You’ll see that our overall newsmaker of the year is health minister Zweli Mkhize. This isn’t an endorsement of him or his government — the response, as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, has been frequently capricious and irrational, as we detail in our editorial this week. But rather, this decision is a reflection of the fact that Covid-19 has been the story of the year, and as the public face of SA’s response, Mkhize has undoubtedly hogged the headlines. While Mkhize personally did well in patches, who can forget his ill-tempered spat with professor Glenda Gray? Or looking at his colleagues: the open-toed shoe debacle, the unconstitutional tobacco ban, or the plain daft 100% taxi load factor. Even this week, the blunt tool that is our police minister, Bheki Cele, could be seen acting like a power-mad despot on the Cape Town beachfront. This is worthy of condemnation, not praise. It was the same story with our politics newsmaker — Ace Magashule — who was told to step aside by the ANC integrity commission this week. More laudable was our newsmaker of the year for society, Glenda Gray, as well as Stephen van Coller’s bid to clean up EOH.

You’ll know that since Covid-19 hit in March, we’ve been publishing an additional newsletter each day (as well as our normal FM daily newsletter), containing exclusive news, columns and analysis on the virus. We’ve had the country’s top writers contributing to this — established names including Bruce Whitfield, Natasha Marrian, Justice Malala, Giulietta Talevi, Toby Shapshak and Thuli Madonsela, as well as formidable new writing talent like Shirley de Villiers, Lebogang Mokoena, Sarah Buitendach and Telita Snyckers. From January 15, we’ve decided to streamline the newsletters — people are already finding it a hassle to keep up with all the newsletters they get — into one daily FM newsletter. It will still contain exclusive daily content, as well as a small selection of the top articles from the magazine — as well as the fantastic new weekly podcast which Peter Bruce is now putting together. So, if you had the Covid-19 newsletter and want to be added to the new one, or want to be added for the first time, please e-mail me on roser@fm.co.za and I’ll make sure it happens. You can also edit your newsletter preferences online by logging into www.businesslive.co.za.

As for how to download the edition, to read it as it is in print, there are three main ways to do this:

  • Download the FM app on your phone, iPad or tablet. Register and sign in, then you can page through it as it is in print. This also stores all your previous editions in a library for you, so you can access it later.
  • Access the BusinessLIVE (www.businesslive.co.za) website, and you’ll see a menu button at the top for e-editions. Click on this and, again, once you’re gone through the registration (and contact me if you get stuck), you’ll see the edition as if it were print.
  • Sign onto Press Reader (www.pressreader.com). Though the FM and Business Day used to be available as part of the whole package, this has stopped. But you can still sign up individually to these titles through Press Reader.

We all know the lowlights of 2020, but one of the highlights for me during the turbulent past few months is that I’ve been able to speak to so many of the FM’s subscribers and readers. Occasionally we mess up, and you tell us that; or you need help with a subscription; or the magazine hasn’t arrived; or you just want to debate a story we’ve written. We really value this interaction so, again, please feel free to contact me on that e-mail address above or on my cellphone number, at 082-856-3046 for whatever reason.

Thanks,
Rob Rose
Editor, Financial Mail

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