Industry Updates

City Press  toasts 30 years of thought leadership

21 Mar 2012

City Press to publish a special 30th anniversary supplement on Sunday, 15 April.

It was born in the days of hope and fear when the UDF was in its infancy, Kaizer Chiefs were soccer champions and Brenda Fassie was a hot new name on the music scene, and has since brought readers the elation of historic moments such as the release of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s first democratic election. Now, in March 2012, City Press celebrates 30 years as one of the country’s leading Sunday newspapers.

The newspaper was launched on March 28, 1982 as the Golden City Press, with the tagline “It’s black, it’s beautiful, it’s ours!”, and sought to bring credible, relevant news to its black working-class readers.

As South Africa evolved, so, too, did City Press. Today, it is a quality national Sunday broadsheet with more than 1.6-million readers. It offers cutting-edge journalism and meaningful content to a multicultural demographic. The newspaper’s principal target market is the black middle class: urban, young, well educated and upwardly mobile.

Evolving with the nation

Under current editor-in-chief, and the paper’s first woman editor, Ferial Haffajee, City Press has been redesigned and repositioned as a high-qualitySunday read with strong editorial content that is both informative and entertaining.

“Like our young democracy, City Press has weathered many storms and this indomitable spirit has remained intact over the decades, through the transition to democracy and the country’s highs and lows,” says Haffajee.

“We started out life as the only Sunday paper that voiced the issues of black South Africans. Today, we operate in a more crowded Sunday newspaper market but continue to provide thought leadership on matters of national importance, while creating a balanced Sunday read that appeals to the whole family,” she says.

To toast its 30th anniversary, City Press has planned a number of activities for the month of March including a special anniversary supplement, to be published on Sunday, 15 April. The commemorative supplement will vividly document the paper’s – and, by extension, the nation’s – evolution through three eventful decades of turbulence, euphoria and reality checks.

Chronicling apartheid’s demise

Established by influential publisher Jim Bailey and South African Associated Newspapers, the Golden City Press debuted into a climate of cautious optimism. Front-page rumours abounded that Nelson Mandela was about to be released from jail and there was an upbeat sense that apartheid was crumbling.

However, this hope would prove premature: although grand apartheid was in its death throes, the regime was growing bloodier and its actions more bizarre. Two years into publishing, and now simply called City Press, the newspaper ran into financial difficulties; Nasionale Pers (now Media24) stepped in to take over publication.

Throughout the desperate, brutal years of consecutive States of Emergency, City Press recorded and represented the anger, dreams and debates of the black urban working class. The journalism of legendary writers and editors captured a generous, humorous and tough-minded spirit that existed in black South Africa: one that would prove fundamental to the creation of the post-apartheid order.

The ’90s brought the dawning of brighter prospects for the nation, even as it teetered on the brink of civil war and economic collapse. Mandela became a free man, kwaito music filled the clubs, and South Africa celebrated its freedom and the flowering African renaissance.

But the honeymoon was short-lived, and moving into the new millennium City Press has not shied away from publishing biting critiques of the country’s new rulers when they bungled, bullied or blustered – while also bringing readers stories of inspiration, achievement and triumph.

A new era of journalism

Now, in 2012, Haffajee believes that with a dynamic new senior editorial team in place and the introduction of supplements such as the glossy lifestyle insert, i Magazine, and the recently revamped City Press Business, the paper is managing to keep pace with rapidly changing reader demands and trends.

A further part of City Press’s repositioning as a quality, authoritative product is the strengthening of its in-house investigative journalism capacity and its online and social media platforms.

“As we move into the next 30 years of City Press, we will continue to speak truth to power as a major player on the media landscape and an essential news resource for those in positions of influence and power,” says Haffajee.

Watch City Press throughout March for more news on its 30th anniversary, or visit

About City Press
Breaking news coverage. Award winning journalists. The latest sport, showbiz and lifestyle news as well as comment from South Africa and around the globe. City Press is South Africa’s most dynamic and influential Sunday newspaper with a readership of 1.6 million and growing. The paper – which proudly celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – has separate Sports, Business and Careers sections while Voices is the must-read opinion and analysis segment, along with its tabloid entertainment supplement 7 and the glossy lifestyle magazine titled I Mag. Editor-in-Chief is Ferial Haffajee leads a team of the country’s best journalists, writers and commentators.

City Press is a Media24 publication.






City Press Past Editors

Between 1982 and 2012, the newspaper was shaped and influenced by a parade of powerful editors. Phillip Selwyn-Smith turned City Press into a publication to be taken seriously, while his successor, acclaimed journalist Percy Qoboza,made great strides in raising the newspaper’s profile.

Following Qoboza’s sudden death in 1988, Khulu Sibiya was thrown in at the deep end but succeeded admirably at the helm, while Len Kalane took over the reins in 1995, soon after the birth of the new South Africa – heralding an exciting new era for City Press.

As the next editor, appointed as the millennium dawned, Vusi Mona introduced a number of editorial changes that saw the newspaper becoming a significant player in the Sunday market. Occupying the hot seat from 2003 to 2008 was Mathatha Tsedu, who launched the call-to-action Your South Africa initiative.

Tsedu was succeeded by Khathu Mamaila, who brought his vast journalistic experience to the table. In 2009, the indomitable Haffajee came on board, intent on strengthening City Press as a winning brand that exemplifies excellence.