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Thank you for the support . . . We hope this annus horribilis has prepared us all for a better 2021!



After watching the world lurching from one catastrophe to another, we were tempted to turn this review into a eulogy grieving the death of a year that ripped our hearts out, shattered our dreams and shook our systems to the core.

From battling a global health pandemic that afflicted more than a million people and took the lives of nearly 28 000 in South Africa alone to suffering an economic crisis that forced business closures and massive job losses, 2020 is surely going down in history as an annus horribilis whose impact will be felt for decades to come.

Yet not everything about the year was a total write-off.

Indeed, having successfully navigated such an unprecedented period that unforgivingly tested our resilience as humanity, we find some solace in reflecting on how we as a new publication managed to cope with such a myriad of challenges to end the year in an encouraging position.

The beauty of the mess – an oxymoron if ever there was one – was our ability to make the most of the difficult situation.

For us as The Free Stater, an independent online English news publication launched in March 2020, our work was cut out right from the onset.

We went live at a time the world’s biggest news story in a lifetime was killing off print newspapers – the very industry that has existed for centuries to report it – leaving many across the globe to turn to digital platforms such as ours for news and information.

With news under threat, just when we needed it most, we knew from the start that our responsibility was going to be massive.

That is why, especially at a time the internet and social media platforms have given rise to the peddling of falsehoods and misinformation, we committed ourselves to creating a brand synonymous with quality, authority and credibility.

We were never under any illusions about the challenges that lay ahead as we set out to establish a viable and respectable title in this ever-treacherous publishing industry.

For a couple of years now the global news industry has seen readership figures dwindling significantly, with operational costs forcing major news companies to scale down, fold titles or file for bankruptcy.

Then, with COVID-19 ravaging the world, businesses elsewhere have also been struggling for survival and diverting their advertising budgets towards efforts to curb the pandemic.

We were aware of these challenges before we decided to take the bull by the horns.

Admittedly, even though we were armed for the battle, we have not been immune from the distress that continues to shake the global news industry to the core.

Incredibly, those massive obstacles have failed to dampen our spirits.

Instead, they have invigorated us to work harder to achieve what had always been our priority: a news product of high journalistic standards anchored by truth, balance and fairness.

For this, we are indebted to our ever-increasing loyal readers who visit our website every day.

We would also like to thank the advertisers who have supported us and those who have committed to come on board in these difficult times.

It is precisely because of their support that we have made it thus far.

We at The Free Stater do not take this support for granted.

Yes, we might be strongly emerging as the leading online news platform in the Free State, but that does not mean we are entitled to being the provincial publication of choice.

We know we have to strive to get better stories, expand our coverage and bring a new perspective on the market.

We have tried to do that but we will be the first ones to acknowledge that we need to do more.

There are many untold stories around our province.

There are stories of corruption, cronyism, abuse of power, injustices, human rights violations and many more bad things that are waiting to be written.

There are cases of hope, courage, determination, empowerment and many more good things that we are yet to report on.

We can only say, with your continued support, we will get there.

It is our hope that the difficulties we faced – and conquered – in 2020 have prepared us all for a better 2021 and beyond.

We wish our readers and advertisers a stable, exciting and flourishing New Year.


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