> DAILY MAVERICK

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER

Innovation is the lifeblood of Daily Maverick – from its origins as a print magazine featuring long-form current affairs, to its current form as a digital news publisher with more than five million unique visitors every month.

Founded by Editor-in-chief Branko Brkic and CEO Styli Charalambous in 2009, eagle-eyed and feisty, Daily Maverick landed as an irreverent voice that did not waver in speaking truth to power: a signature that would come to define its brand of reporting.

Mission-driven
With a mission to Defend Truth, the publication is a unique blend of news, information, analysis and opinion delivered from its newsrooms in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and journalists all over South Africa.

Well known for its investigations that expose corruption and abuse of power, Daily Maverick has published numerous original stories and investigations that have been influential to democratic South Africa, such as:

  • Marikana Murder Fields;
  • R870-million paid back to the state from McKinsey as a result of the #GuptaLeaks McKinsey Dossier;
  • The SIU freezing R40.7-million worth of assets from 14 companies found guilty of the unlawful procurement of services uncovered during Maverick
    Citizen’s investigation into the decontamination of schools;
  • The Free State Asbestos Scandal, exposing SARS and VBS Mutual Bank corruption;
  • The uncovering of Minister Zweli Mkhize’s blatant lies and the misappropriation of R90-million by Digital Vibes as part of the R150-million Covid-19 and National Health Insurance communications contract.

When many others contracted or closed shop, Daily Maverick chose to expand in a time of pandemic. Starting with a new narrative podcast series called “Don’t Shoot The Messenger”; the launch of a weekly print newspaper with an innovative partnership distribution model; and their new format of audience engagement and journalism – live journalism webinars.

Weekly, hundreds of readers tune in to one or more live virtual events that allow audiences real-time experience with Daily Maverick’s award-winning journalists and panels of experts discussing current affairs and lesser-known stories that deserve coverage.

“In a time when misinformation and lies get halfway around the world before the truth has had breakfast, it was important for us that we view this as an opportunity to make our journalism accessible to even more people,” says Brkic

Notable achievements
2012: Greg Marinovich is runner-up for the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism for his work on Marikana.

2019: the publication is the joint winner of the 2019 Global Shining Light Award for its #GuptaLeaks investigative journalism.

2020: investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk wins the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award for Investigative Journalism for her work on VBS and the EFF, and is runner-up in the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism for the same work.

2021: Charalambous receives the prestigious Nat Nakasa industry award for courage. It was the first time the award has been given to a CEO-publisher.

Diversified Revenue
Independent to its core, Daily Maverick has survived this far thanks to a diversified revenue model – innovation in and of itself. Philanthropy, commercial advertising and sponsorship and reader revenue are the three streams of income used to fuel the growth of the organisation that has tripled in size in the last five years. This hybrid model is somewhat unique straddling the non-profit and for-profit model of journalism, in essence, extracting the best of both worlds.

To stay sustainable, the publication took an unorthodox avenue (especially for a South African newsroom) and turned to readers for support by launching the first continental foray into membership. There are 17,00 Daily Maverick readers who have joined the Maverick Insider community and make a recurring monthly or annual contributions that supports quality, independent journalism and keeps it free for all readers.

Access to the truth, for all, is the ethos that guides everything Daily Maverick does. Along with the editorial content, webinars, and podcasts, the Daily Maverick newsletter suite is designed to deliver curated news to audiences based on the news they are most interested in receiving.

The flagship newsletter is First Thing – arriving in 180,000 inboxes by 6am every day, the free morning email bulletin plugs the reader back into what happened the night before.

Innovation culture
While the media sector has halved in size over the last decade, Daily Maverick has aimed to thrive in a time of survival. Despite the global disruption of the sector, layered with the political and economic challenges of the country, Daily Maverick has always prioritised its quest to be better and provide a better public service by creating a culture of innovation throughout the organisation.

Pursuing an innovation mindset demands investment in training, people and product and technology. Data combined with a deep understanding of audience needs drive innovation projects that aim to create new editorial products and features for readers and improved ways of working for team members.

Audience engagement and development have become critical focus areas for the Daily Maverick team, who have put into place audience listening tools on their site as well as recently appointed an Audience Development Manager, who is dedicated to optimizing the reach and impact of the work being done by the Daily Maverick newsroom.

Entrepreneurial journalism
Founded on an entrepreneurial spirit in defense of truth, that essence of Daily Maverick continues to thrive despite the challenges of producing quality independent journalism in the 21st century. For journalism to be editorial independent it also needs to be financially independent. And in the modern media economy that requires a truly entrepreneurial approach as the cookie-cutter business model of
media no longer exists.

As a mission-driven publisher, it is imperative that those concepts are known by team members and readers alike. The vision is simple: to ensure that engaging with Daily Maverick allows every person to know more and know better than they did before. And we do that with our mission to Defend Truth.

Bringing that to life requires collaboration, being adaptable, and bringing all new ideas to the table. And lots of communication and training. A challenge the Maverick team has risen to for more than a decade and will continue to do in its pursuit for every South African to have free access to the truth.

DAILY MAVERICK

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