Esmaré Weideman has been CEO of Media24, South Africa’s largest media company, for the past five years. Her appointment in 2011 followed almost ten years at the helm of South Africa’s flagship weekly news and entertainment magazines Huisgenoot, YOU and DRUM.
As editor-in-chief of these household magazines, she was hailed as one of the leading editors of her generation on the African continent. She played a vital role in the sustained profitability of these magazine titles, delivering relevant content to an audience now exceeding 7 million readers each week.
As CEO of Media24 Esmaré oversees the company’s vast interests in print and digital publishing, distribution, ecommerce, ecommerce fulfilment and online services. Media24’s publishing portfolio includes some 40 magazines and 80 newspapers, several book publishers and the country’s prime digital news destinations News24 and Netwerk24. The company employs some 6 000 people.
With cum laude B Com and B Journalism Hons degrees from the University of Stellenbosch, she started her career as labour reporter at Finansies & Tegniek (now Finweek) in 1985, rising quickly through the ranks at the financial weekly before being appointed political journalist at The Star in 1989. Her early career highlights included being the only South African journalist to accompany Nelson Mandela on his six-week world tour after his release from prison.
Having covered politics during the tumultuous period leading up to the birth of democracy, she served a stint as assistant news editor on The Star and worked as layout and sub-editor on the paper before moving to Cape Town with her husband Philip in 1995 where she rejoined Media24 as associate editor of DRUM. She then became assistant editor of Fairlady, gaining valuable experience in glossy women’s titles, before being appointed the first female editor and youngest editor ever of YOU magazine in 2001.
In 2002 further responsibility was given to her when she was appointed editor of Huisgenoot, South Africa’s largest magazine, and three years later the editorship of DRUM followed – making her the first editor of all three weekly magazines. In September 2010 she was promoted to editor-in-chief of Huisgenoot, YOU and DRUM as well as all their brand extensions.
She launched several new titles including Huisgenoot-Tempo, Huisgenoot-Pols, YOU Pulse as well as several stand-alone brand extensions. She also pioneered YOU’s annual YOU Spectacular event, which recognizes South African excellence in the entertainment industry, an annual Huisgenoot songwriting competition to promote new Afrikaans musical talent, the Huisgenoot Tempo Awards for the Afrikaans music industry and the three weeklies’ highly acclaimed United Against Crime campaign.
Awards include Media24’s Piet Cillié prize for “excellence in journalism” (2005) and Naspers’s prestigious Phil Weber award for “sustained achievement in a career with Naspers” (2007), the multinational company’s highest accolade. She won the coveted Jane Raphaely Editor of the Year award at the MPASA Pica Awards in 2009.
She is a non-executive director of Novus Holdings and chair of New Media.
Esmarè, we salute you!