A guide to South African newspapers

South Africa is well served by a robust and diverse press, with newspapers that range from hefty political reads to edgier urban dailies. Here is a comprehensive look at all the major titles in the country – including their circulation and sales figures.

(Image: Wikipedia)

*Read more about the history and culture of South African media 

Note: Circulation refers to number of copies sold, as sourced from the Audit Bureau of Circulations South Africa (ABC), between January to March 2013.

Number of readers refers to the actual number of people who read the newspaper, as measured annually by the South African Advertising Research Foundation’s All Media Products Survey (Amps) Newspaper Readership and Trends for 2012.

South Africa’s daily newspapers

Some daily newspapers publish six to seven days a week, while some have special weekend editions. These are noted below, and not in the weekend newspaper section.

Beeld

Beeld is an Afrikaans-language daily, printed six days a week and distributed in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. First published in 1974, the paper is owned by Media24.

  • Website: www.beeld.com
  • Language: Afrikaans
  • Circulation: 67 700
  • Readers: 441 000
  • Naweek Beeld: 65 645 circulation

Die Burger

Afrikaans-language daily Die Burger, first published in 1915, is the biggest daily newspaper in the Western Cape. Published six days a week, it has separate editions for the Eastern and Western Cape. Owned by Media24.

  • Website: www.dieburger.com
  • Language: Afrikaans
  • Circulation: 62 237
  • Readers: 497 000
  • Die Burger – Saturday: 78 301 copies; 272 000 readers

Business Day

Business Day is a dedicated business newspaper, reporting on corporate news, black economic empowerment, economic policy, corporate governance and financial markets. It is owned by BDFM, which is controlled by the Times Media Group.

Cape Argus

Founded in 1857, the Cape Argus is published in Cape Town by Independent Newspapers. It was relaunched as a tabloid in 2012.

  • www.capeargus.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 33 247
  • Readers: 294 000
  • Weekend Argus (Saturday): 43 114 copies; 155 000 readers
  • Weekend Argus (Sunday): 18 601 copies; 140 000 readers

Cape Times

Independent Newspapers’s Cape Times, a daily published since 1876, is aimed at the middle classes of Cape Town.

The Citizen

The Citizen is published six days a week and distributed mainly in Gauteng. News, sport, business – and racing. The newspaper is owned by Caxton&CTP.

  • www.citizen.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 63 854
  • Readers: 451 000
  • The Citizen – Saturday: 37 730 circulation

Daily Dispatch

The first issue of the East London Daily Dispatch was published in 1898. It was edited by Donald Woods from 1965 until his arrest and banning in 1977 for exposing government responsibility for the death of Steve Biko. Targets readers in the Eastern Cape. Owned by Times Media.

  • Website: www.dispatch.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 28 879
  • Readers: 238 000
  • Saturday Dispatch: 22 126 copies; 130 000 readers

Daily News

The Daily News, first published in 1878 as the Natal Mercantile Advertiser, is targeted at the middle market of Durban and the rest of KwaZulu-Natal. Owned by Independent Newspapers.

Daily Sun

Daily Sun is the largest daily in South Africa. A tabloid aimed at the working class, it offers local news and gossip, focusing on events in ordinary people’s lives. Sunday Sun is the fastest growing newspaper in the country. Both titles are owned by Media24.

  • www.dailysun.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 296 489
  • Readers: 5 554 000
  • Sunday Sun: 169 412 copies; 2 608 000 readers

Daily Voice

The Daily Voice is aimed at the workers of the Cape Flats (Western Cape). With its motto, “Ons skrik vir niks!”, the newspaper is unashamedly a South African take on UK tabloids such as The Sun. It is published in English and Afrikaans. Owned by Independent Newspapers.

  • Website: none
  • Language: English and Afrikaans
  • Readers: 463 000
  • Circulation: not registered with ABC

Diamond Fields Advertiser

Established in 1878, Independent Newspapers’ Diamond Fields Advertiser is based in Kimberley and targets the communities of the sparsely populated Northern Cape.

  • Website: none
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 9 691
  • Readers: 76 000

The Herald

Founded as the Eastern Province Herald, the Herald is one of South Africa’s oldest newspapers. Its first edition – four pages – came out on May 7 1845 and cost one penny. Owned by Times Media and distributed in the Eastern Cape, with its main base in Port Elizabeth.

Isolezwe

Isolezwe is a daily isiZulu newspaper, aimed at KwaZulu-Natal’s middle class. It is owned by Independent Newspapers.

  • Website: www.isolezwe.co.za
  • Language: isiZulu
  • Circulation: 116 186
  • Readers: 943 000
  • Isolezwe ngoMgquibelo (Saturday): 80 792 copies; 487 000 readers
  • Isolezwe ngeSonto (Sunday): 48 000 copies; 668 000 readers

The Mercury

The Mercury, published since 1852, is Durban’s morning newspaper. It includes Business Report, a national financial news supplement published by Independent Newspapers.

Pretoria News

Pretoria News, first published in 1898, is Independent Newspapers’ daily in the capital city. Mainly sold in Gauteng, it is also distributed in Mpumalanga and North West.

  • www.pretorianews.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 18 775
  • Readers: 141 000
  • Pretoria News Weekend: 11 382 copies; 34 000 readers

Son

Son is South Africa’s Afrikaans-language sex, sport and scandal tabloid. Distributed daily in the Western and Eastern Cape. Owned by Media24.

  • www.dieson.co.za
  • Language: Afrikaans
  • Circulation: 92 213
  • Readers: 1 102 000
  • Son op Sondag: 55 885 copies; 457 000 readers

Sowetan

Sowetan is Daily Sun’s main competition. Aimed at an English-literate black readership. Initially distributed as a weekly free sheet in Soweto, the paper was transformed into a daily in 1981 to fill the void left by the Post, which was deregistered by the apartheid government. Sowetan is owned by Times Media.

The New Age

South Africa’s newest national newspaper was launched in December 2010. It is owned by TNA Media, a company with close ties to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). The paper’s owners and editor, however, have stated that while The New Age reports on the government in a positive manner, it remains objective, and does not act as an ANC or government propaganda tool. Which is not true.

  • Website: www.thenewage.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: Not registered with the ABC
  • Readers: 107 000

The Star

The Star is published in Johannesburg and distributed throughout South Africa, with most sales in Gauteng. Launched in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in 1887 as the Eastern Star, the paper moved to Johannesburg in 1889. Owned by Independent Newspapers.

  • Website: www.thestar.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 106 484
  • Readers: 615 000
  • Saturday Star: 76 897 copies; 249 000 readers

The Times

The Times was launched in 2007 as a sister paper to Times Media’s Sunday Times. The paper has limited street sales, but is distributed free of charge to the Sunday Times’ subscribers, from Monday to Friday. In tabloid format, it prides itself on being a quick and easy read. Ties heavily into the Times LIVE website, providing additional content such as blogs, podcasts and video.

  • Website: www.timeslive.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Readers: 287 000
  • Circulation: Not registered with the ABC

Volksblad (Daily)

First published in 1904, Volksblad is the oldest Afrikaans daily in the country and the largest in the Free State and Northern Cape. It is owned by Media24.

The Witness

South Africa’s oldest newspaper, the Witness, serves English readers throughout KwaZulu-Natal, with most of its readers in greater Pietermaritzburg and inland KwaZulu-Natal. Owned by Media24, it was formerly known as the Natal Witness.

  • Website: www.witness.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 19 001
  • Readers: 134 000
  • Weekend Witness: 20 749 copies; 100 000 readers

South Africa’s weekly newspapers

City Press

First published in 1982 as Golden City Press, the paper was aimed at the black market. Its name was changed to City Press in 1983 by its owners, Jim Bailey and the South African Associated Newspapers. Media24 acquired the paper in 1984. It is published on Sundays.

Ilanga

Published twice a week, Ilanga describes itself as a proud promoter and protector of KwaZulu-Natal’s cultural and historical heritage. Published in Zulu in tabloid format. Owned by Mandla-Matla Publishers.

  • Website: www.ilanganews.co.za
  • Language: isiZulu
  • Circulation: 117 115
  • Readers: 937 000
  • Ilanga Langesonto: 61 918 copies; 668 000 readers

Independent on Saturday

The Independent on Saturday caters for the KwaZulu-Natal market. It is published by Independent Newspapers.

  • Website: www.tios.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 44 169
  • Readers: 219 000

Mail & Guardian

Mail & Guardian, formerly the Weekly Mail, was established in 1985 at the height of resistance to apartheid. When foreign donor funding started drying up for anti-apartheid organisations in the late 1980s, many of the country’s alternative newspapers – notably Grassroots, South, New African and New Nation – folded. The Weekly Mail, however, struck up a partnership with the Guardian of London, ensuring the paper’s continued existence. Today, Zimbabwean entrepreneur Trevor Ncube’s company, Newtrust Company Botswana Limited, has a majority share of 87.5% in Mail & Guardian, with the Guardian holding a 10% stake.

  • Website: www.mg.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 45 279
  • Readers: 459 000

Post

Post was launched in the mid-1950s as “a racy read, spiced with sex, soccer and news”. Targeted at the Indian communities of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, it is owned by Independent Newspapers. Post is published on Wednesdays, with the leisure and sport Weekend Post appearing on Fridays.

  • Website: www.thepost.co.za
  • Language: English
  • Circulation: 44 984
  • Readers: 345 000
  • Weekend Post: 22 137 copies; 194 000 readers

Rapport

Rapport is South Africa’s national Afrikaans Sunday newspaper. It is distributed countrywide and in Namibia. Owned by Media24.

Soccer Laduma

A specialist soccer newspaper published on a Wednesday, Soccer Laduma is South Africa’s largest selling sports publication. Has opinionated and loyal web and mobile audiences. Published by Media24.

Sunday Independent

The Sunday Independent was established in 1995 and is aimed at readers in the higher-income bracket. Its main sales are in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Northern Cape. Its readers are 47% black, 29% black, 11% coloured and 13% Indian. It is owned by Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Times

Times Media’s Sunday Times is South Africa’s biggest Sunday newspaper, read by over 3.4-million people. The paper includes a lifestyle (features, travel, food) and Business Times sections. Established in 1906, the Sunday Times is distributed all over South Africa and in neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland.

Sunday Tribune

The Sunday Tribune caters for readers in KwaZulu-Natal. Its is published by Independent Newspapers.

Sunday World

The Sunday World, launched in 1999, is a “racy” tabloid aimed at young black readers. Owned by Times Media.

Weekend Post

Published on a Saturday, the Weekend Post is the major regional weekend newspaper in the Eastern Cape, with its core market in Port Elizabeth. Owned by Times Media.

Source: Wikipedia, South African History Online, Media Online

Reviewed: 12 September 2013

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