In a unanimous decision, Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) in Gauteng have chosen Eric Phiri, a distinguished publisher and the founder of Stokfel Talk, as their representative in the national structure of AIP. Phiri’s election to this vital role comes at a critical juncture for community newspapers in the Gauteng Province, as they grapple with urgent financial and advertising support needs.

Eric Phiri, a veteran in publishing, steps into the position without facing any opposition from fellow community publishers. His ascension to the role signifies a collective belief in his ability to navigate the challenges faced by community media in Gauteng.

The community media sector is currently experiencing a dire need for financial backing and increased advertising support. In response to these challenges, Phiri has pledged unwavering dedication to addressing the struggles within the sector, aiming to unlock opportunities and support for community media entities.

Phiri succeeds the late Octavia Hlungwane Ngondo, a significant figure in community media, and takes on the responsibility with a clear mission to champion the rights and needs of community newspapers. His leadership is expected to bring about a renewed focus on overcoming obstacles and fostering growth within the sector.

Acknowledging the significance of this transition, Saki Mabhele, the Publisher of Tembisa’s Olifants News, expressed optimism, stating, “This is a great day for community media, as we believe Eric Phiri understands the issues on the ground and will be the eyes and ears while defending our rights as community media.”

Fanelo Maseko, the Publisher of Loxion News, added his voice of support for Phiri, saying, “The publishers have chosen a very humble person who has led the community media co-operative with dignity and honour. Eric is approachable and has experience. He knows our struggles as publishers.”

Looking ahead, Eric Phiri is wasting no time in getting to work. He has announced plans to convene a meeting of all Gauteng publishers in the coming weeks. This strategic gathering aims to address and unpack critical issues facing community media, fostering collaboration and laying the groundwork for a resilient and thriving community media landscape.

As Eric Phiri assumes this pivotal role, there is a collective hope that his leadership will usher in positive change and provide the much-needed support to fortify the community media sector in Gauteng. The community and industry insiders are eagerly anticipating the impact of Phiri’s tenure and the positive transformation it may bring to the realm of independent publishing in the region.

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