Live Magazine SA’s Braamfontein interns had a chance to tour the Daily Sun offices in Auckland Park on Monday.
Managing Editor Barry Mouton took us under his experienced wing to guide the tour. Before we step into the hub of daily news chaos, Mouton stops us at a vaudevillian mannequin set at the entrance. Sporting a spoti and dusty blue overalls, the mannequin grips a recent copy of the newspaper. Deon du Plessis, Daily Sun’s granddaddy, insisting on inserting this and other similar mannequins throughout the Daily Sun office space. Every day, office workers are reminded of the primary purpose of the newspaper – to serve the interest of their working class readership.
The Daily Sun is tabloid paper – its objective is to entertain. While stories about service delivery protests, crimes and political maneuvering do make the paper, they do so only as and when these issues swell in the day-to-day consciousness of the paper’s readers. If it isn’t relevant already to the people, the Daily Sun will not mandate itself to force that information on its readers. Instead, “tokoloshe” and other human interest, sometimes fantastical, stories take lead priority at this hugely successful publication.
Even in the case of its famed tokoloshe stories, the paper applies a strict task to its reporters. Although the ‘facts’ in these stories may not stand up to scientific scrutiny, Daily Sun reporters are required to represent “the truth as it was represented to them [by the teller of the story]”. There is a huge sense of accountability from the paper to its readers; there is a desire to create a voice that is true, strong and resonant.
With a circulation of 300 000 strong, and a readership of over 1.5 million (where any given copy of a Daily Sun is read by as many as 20 different readers), the paper is undoubtedly hitting the mark it has set for itself.
We find ourselves in a climate of declining print media, and a local press who are regularly – and possibly rightfully – perceived as ‘wishy washy’ and failing to serve their readers in their journalistic mandate to create accountability from our public servants and politicians. The Daily Sun serves as an antidote to that illness – a strong readership and zero desire to migrate online, as well as a powerful moral code of serving its readers regardless of political fall out.
While other papers go straight to the experts, heads of department and government officials to send out a particular kind of story, Daily Sun reporters will first go the people. It is the feeling on the street and the sentiment of the working class that informs these reporters. The paper’s reputation for being trashy and low-brow only serves its own interests here. Reporters can ask the questions no one else will ask, and photographers can publish the gory and honest images no one else will publish.
It was an inspiring visit, lead by a strong-willed, straight-talking managing editor with a clear vision – apparently something so lacking in most newspapers facing declining circulation in South Africa today.
Burn on, Daily Sun. Thanks for letting LiveSA feel your heat.