Today’s Small Business Spotlight features Overstrand Herald, a community newspaper started by Gerard Grobler in South Africa. We asked him a bit about himself and Overstrand Herald.
Tell us a little about Overstrand Herald.
The Herald is a small community newspaper serving the coastal communities of Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay and Rooiels. We have about 12,000 permanent residents and is situated about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, South Africa along the Atlantic Ocean. It is truly a beautiful place—you should come for a visit! There are three staff members including myself who do everything. Frontdesk, ads, layout, reporting, printing and distribution. Depending on the season we do between 32 and 40 pages of copy every week and in holidays this can go up to 72 pages.
We own the newspaper and pride ourselves on our independence. We are surrounded by the publications of large multi national companies with access to loads of money and expertise. They are so massive they actually own a chunk of Facebook, 50 % of Tencent in China and stakes in numerous digital concerns across the world. In South Africa they own most of the large dailies, some 150 local newspapers, as well as the largest satellite TV company. To be able to stand up to this kind of competition you really have to focus, be faster and better on a hyperlocal level, and increasingly also in the digital world. We try and keep up with developments and are continuously looking for those elusive ways of making money from digital products. Pagevamp is now part of this strategy.
What inspired you to get started?
Desperation. We came back to South Africa after a year’s stay in South America in 1995. Had no job or money, and I mean NO money. My wife and I were both experienced journalists ( radio and TV) but had no experience of newspapers. We only had a Volkswagen Beetle to our name and two small children to bring up. We rented a house with money we did not have. We hired a guy with a desktop and laser printer with money we did not have (he was just as broke as we were) and proceeded to look for a printer that would give us 30 days to pay ( with money we did not yet have). After 7 or 8 unsuccessful attempts we eventually found one and two weeks later the first Herald appeared. This was 19 years ago. We sold the paper after a few years, but bought it back about three ago. My retirement job and I love it!
What’s your favorite part about your job?
After more than 25 years in journalism a really great story still excites me—I can literally feel the blood rushing through my veins. I am one of those lucky people who has found the perfect job.
What was the most exciting experience you’ve had at work?
After 25 years there are too many to recall. I have traveled all over Africa, seen too many wars and violence, and fought in one. Don’t think there is better job for a young man.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read a lot, listen to BBC World Service, and just enjoy the privacy of my home and company of close family
What are some of your favorite foods?
In South Africa we need no excuse to braai (barbecue) especially over weekends. This and the numerous side dishes that go with it is always a hit.
Visit Overstrand Herald’s website at www.overstrandherald.co.za