More from a community newspaper publisher

Haartsbeesport Lake

Haartsbeesport Lake

Haartbeesport Lake

Haartbeesport Lake

Click here for more photos of Hartbeespoort

Hartbeespoort Lake (formed by a dam)

Sunday, Sept. 9 — I met with Deon van Huizen, publisher of the weekly paper, Kormorant, in Hartbeespoort, and with Willie Meyer, one of my current colleagues at Tshwane University of Technology, Sushanguve campus. Willie has lived in Hartbeespoort for 35 years, and helps Deon by editing copy and writing editorials. Willie just won third place for editorial writing in the Association of Independent Publishers Community Press Awards. Deon won third for his photography.

Deon repeated what I heard several times at the newspaper conference: It does not make economical sense to do anything more that cut and paste his news site online, using Microsoft FrontPage. About 50% of the people in his upscale community are online via DSL, but he said South Africa’s average is more like 20%. (One of my guidebooks says it’s 2%.) However, Deon thought 100% of his customers used mobile phones.

It takes him two hours a week to cut and paste his newspaper online. He said that’s all the online site is worth, because it does not bring in any revenue.

Four years ago, he experimented with sending SMS text messages of the newspaper’s headlines to his readers, but he said no one cared. It didn’t cause people who would not have picked up the paper to do so. Those who were going to get the paper not matter what, did not need the text message, and those who were not going to pick it up, were not persuaded by the text message. So, he stopped doing it because it was expensive, labor intensive and brought in no revenue.

During the Christmas break in publishing, Deon plans to switch from the Corel layout system to Adobe InDesign, part of Creative Suite.

Most of the articles in the Kormorant are in English, but some are in Afrikaans.

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Filed under Africa, Journalism

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