The Mail & Guardian is a South African weekly newspaper, published by M&G Media in Johannesburg, South Africa. It focuses on political analysis, investigative reporting, Southern African news, local arts, music and popular culture.


The publication was started as an alternative newspaper by a group of journalists in 1985 after the closure of two leading liberal newspapers, The Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Express. It was originally known as the Weekly Mail, as the paper did not have enough money to publish daily. Weekly Mail was one of the first newspapers to use Apple Mac desktop publishing.

The Weekly Mail criticised the government and its apartheid policies, which led to the paper's suspension in 1988 by then State President P. W. Botha. The paper was renamed the Weekly Mail & Guardian from 30 July 1993. The London-based Guardian Media Group (GMG), publishers of The Guardian, became the majority shareholder of the print edition in 1995, and the name was changed to Mail & Guardian.

In 2002, 87.5% of the company was sold to the Newtrust Company Botswana Limited, which was owned by Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean publisher and entrepreneur. Trevor Ncube took over as the CEO of the company.

In 2006 MD Africa became the Mail & Guardian's national distributor. The change resulted in good circulation growth, despite difficult market conditions. In 2013 the newspaper achieved a record period with 51 551 copies circulated. MDA distributes a number of publications including Noseweek and Destiny magazine. However, by the first quarter of 2015, distribution had collapsed to 30,714.

The Mail & Guardian Online

In 1994, the Mail & Guardian Online was launched in conjunction with Media24 (a subsidiary of the Naspers group), becoming the first internet news publication in Africa. It has grown into its own daily news operation with a number of writers, multimedia producers, sub-editors and more. It is run out of the Mail & Guardian offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The site focuses on local, international and African hard news, sport and business.

The website began its life as the Electronic Mail & Guardian, which was initially an e-mail subscription service that allowed readers living outside South Africa to receive Mail & Guardian newspaper stories before they reached newspaper subscribers. Soon after, the service expanded into a searchable online archive, published in partnership with Sangonet, the country's oldest internet service provider. A website was added, which in turn progressed from producing a weekly mirror of the printed newspaper to generating its own daily news.

The Mail & Guardian Online was jointly owned by internet service provider MWEB and publishing company M&G Media until M&G Media purchased 100% of the operation in 2008.

It has interactive news photo galleries, discussion forums and special reports on subjects such as Zimbabwe, HIV and controversial South African President Jacob Zuma. It also features regular cartoons by South African political cartoonist Zapiro.

The newspaper's headquarters are in Rosebank, Johannesburg, with a smaller bureau in Cape Town. The editor of the Mail & Guardian is Angela Quintal, the editor-in-chief is former M&G Online editor Chris Roper and the CEO is Hoosain Karjieker.

M&G Media runs several other sites including:

  • Thought Leader — an editorial group blog of commentary and analysis
  • Amabunghane — investigative journalism issued in the interest of the public
  • Voices of Africa — a contributor blog including everyday accounts of ordinary Africans (discontinued Sept 2015).
  • Mail & Guardian Women — aggregated content that foregrounds women's issues that might otherwise be subsumed in general content
  • Mail & Guardian Africa — a pan-African digital platform headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.


  • 2012: CNN African Journalism award (2012)
  • 2012: Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award
  • 2011: Vodacom journalist of the year award
  • 2011: Bookmark awards
  • 2010: Bookmark awards
  • 2005: Webby Worthy honourable mention
  • 2001: voted the Mail & Guardian Online one of the world's top 175 websites
  • 1996: Missouri Medal for Distinguished Journalism
  • 1995: British IPD Best International Newspaper Award

Distribution areas

Eastern CapeYY
Free StateYY
Kwa-Zulu NatalYY
North WestYY
Northern CapeYY
Western CapeYY

Distribution figures

Net Sales
Oct - Dec 201533 210
Jun - Aug 201530 290
Jan - Mar 201530 714
Jan - Mar 201444 267
Jan — Mar 201345 279
Apr — Jun 201342 496
Jul — Sep 201342 242
Oct — Dec 201351 551