Media24’s digital division, 24.com, has announced that it will be launching a news wire service in April.
The announcement comes in the wake of the South African Press Association’s (Sapa) closure. The new service will be called News24Wire.
A national reporting team consisting of 16 people is being built by veteran editor and News24 editor-in-chief, Andrew Trench, and will be a resource for the country’s press, the group announced.
The team, led by Sapa’s news editor Fienie Grobler, will provide breaking news from around the country, and the wire will be supplemented with copy from the Media24 stable.
Notably, content from News24Wire will be free to use for all digital publications, and for syndication by print, broadcast, radio and corporate partners. Initially focused on text, the newswire will later expand to include images, data journalism and multimedia packages, it said.
Lisa MacLeod, Media24’s head of digital publishing, said: “As a long-serving member of Sapa, Media24 fully appreciates and supports the value of a well-run newswire service, and we have endeavoured to accommodate as many of Sapa’s staff and services as possible.”
“We are building a fully digital newsroom with bureaus around the country,” said Trench.
“Many of Sapa’s former staff, who have the reporting firepower to take our news sites News24 and Netwerk24 to a new level, as well as the experience to help us build our new service, have applied to join us and we are in the late stages of recruiting our team.”
With bureaus already set up in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein, News24Wire will also tap into an extensive stringer network.
The service will zone in on local content, with a particular focus on breaking news and politics. It will also cover business, sport and news originating from the established News24 Nigeria and News24 Kenya newsrooms.
“We are particularly pleased, on the back of the recent debacle around stifling reporting in Parliament, to be able to offer our news free to digital partners, thus ensuring freedom of the press and unfettered access to information for both publishers and consumers of news in South Africa,” said Trench.
News24Wire will launch a start-up newswire and daily diary service from 1 April, the day after Sapa closes.
A press release wire service for subscribers will follow and will provide access to News24’s audience reach at competitive rates, the group said.