MAVERICK BACK ONLINE: Former readers of Maverick magazine can rejoice, an online version of the popular business magazine, called The Daily Maverick was launched yesterday. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

CHANTELLE BENJAMIN

FRUSTRATED former readers of Maverick magazine can rejoice - the indomitable Branko Brkic yesterday launched an online version of the business magazine, called The Daily Maverick.

In many ways the website recreates winning concepts from the now defunct Maverick monthly, such as its promise to make business reading enjoyable. But Brkic takes matters further, looking to challenge perceptions of online media in SA.

"I wanted to create a website that debunked the myth that it's not possible to get good quality, insightful journalism online, while still making it a fun read," he said.

The new website not only appears user-friendly, with interesting content generated by the same experienced team of journalists that wrote for Maverick, but its attractive layout makes it much more than the repository for published information that many other media websites are.

The loss last year of Brkic's media industry magazine Empire and its business sibling Maverick, in particular, was met with sadness by some in the media and by the magazines' core audience, who saw them as innovative and entertaining publications.

Brkic put their demise down to shareholder disagreements with Mvelaphanda Holdings, who had majority shares in his company, Business Century Publishing, who published the magazines.

Brkic said yesterday that he can run his website with 100% in- house-generated copy and pictures for four months on the money used to produce just one edition of Maverick.

The new website, the product of 130 interviews with leading business executives over numerous cups of coffee and a one- month trial run with former Maverick readers, carries no international wire-service copy and deals in an in-depth manner with the latest international, political, economic, sport, news and entertainment news.

"The challenge for me was how to create a website the people enjoy, but set it out in a way that advertisers can also get value," he said. "Our research revealed that readers hated single banner, pop- up or flash adverts. It was just annoying."

His answer was a panel advert running down the side of every page and which remains in place as the reader scrolls up or down.

Registered users on The Daily Maverick will get a morning newsletter which brings them up to date with world and local news from 8pm the previous evening right up to 5am.

Brkic's intention to move away from websites padded out by international copy to a site with copy generated only by its team is an ambitious undertaking for the small team.

"It is a brilliant idea and clever website. And it's something I think will be very successful," says Stuff editor Toby Shapshak, who has been reading the beta site daily for the past few weeks.

"It's a highly innovative publishing concept too which I think all publishers are hoping he proves correct: it's a great example of a pure-play internet site in the very best tradition of The Daily Beast, to which it's deservedly compared."

benjaminc@bdfm.co.za