After 41 years, the last issue of Finweek, a bi-weekly South African financial magazine, was published on 26 November. Born in 1980 as a way to broaden access to business, investment and financial information, particularly to Afrikaans readers (the original name was Finansies & Tegniek), it had become an institution in many households and offices over the years. It modernised and transformed to Finweek a decade or so ago, publishing two separate issues in English and Afrikaans. Its demise leaves a massive hole in South African financial journalism.
I have been a columnist since 2015, producing 141 columns for a total of about 130 000 words. My connection with Finweek has been both rewarding and informative: the best way to learn how to write is to write, and Finweek gave me the opportunity to write a lot. I’m realistic about the impact of financial journalism: I doubt my columns had any sway on South African policymaking or private sector investment. But the feedback I’ve received over the years was almost always positive, supportive and kind. Meeting a complete stranger who cites a column you’ve written still surprises and delights.
A few, short thank yous. Journalist and author Anneli Groenewald invited me to join the team in 2015. Jana Marais, Anneli and now Jaco Visser were great editors. Zenelda Esterhuizen has been a wonderful managing editor over the last year. I’ve also had great translators that turned my English financial jargon into readable Afrikaans. For the last six years, I’ve sent an email – Dear John – to the accounts department every other week. I’ve never met John, but my invoice has always been paid on time. Thank you, John.
Few know that when I first arrived at Stellenbosch, I wanted to be a financial journalist. For the last six years, I’ve been privileged to live that dream. Thank you to the readers of the columns I’ve written, and to those that sent in comments and suggestions. All of my columns are available to read on my blog at johanfourie.com.
The media industry is in a period of rapid change. Financial magazines are struggling against (free) online content. Finweek was no exception. I now have the benefit of dedicating my time to other pursuits, but many of my colleagues at Finweek are not as lucky. I’ll be thinking of them during the next few months and hope that they will find a team as dedicated to producing quality content as the high standards Finweek had.