There’s a mantra in the media world that urges journalists and editors to never make themselves the story. For a decade, Daily Maverick and its founders have dedicated all their efforts and limited resources to the creation of stories that people would want to read – and that would make them the smartest people in the room as a result. Following the high-profile hard landing/crash of Maverick magazine, founder Branko Brkic was determined to elevate the profile of the journalists who worked for the digitally native reincarnated effort of the magazine, balancing this against the aforesaid mantra. He succeeded.

Daily Maverick is now read by millions, followed and supported by legions and detested by a few. It has also been an instrumental cog in the broken machine that is South Africa (2009-2019). For that reason, and due to the stubborn determination of our Maverick Insider community manager, we have decided to celebrate our 10th anniversary by looking back at how these journalists told their stories, how the politics of the country shaped this media start-up, and how massive disruption and large-scale competitors continue to threaten the existence of this challenger brand. We wanted to create something special to mark these first 10 years, something tangible that also reflected the digital element of Daily Maverick. As you read it, you’ll see in the margins short links to the articles that are referred to in the story, which you can look up at your leisure. You’ll also, on occasion, see a QR code. If you scan this code with your smartphone, or download a QR reader app you will be able to watch video commentary from our journalists (and a few other special moments from the last decade).

Another important point to note for those sensitive to colourful language: we’re telling the story of a real and quite raw journey through some incredibly tough times. This account is distilled from candid conversations with passionate people who stare down threats, abuse and intimidation daily. We hope you’ll indulge some of the profanity used because, well, shit got real.

We Have A Game Changer is a tribute to the many people who have passed through the virtual corridors of Daily Maverick, and the brave sources and whistle-blowers, who helped change South Africa.

Looking back on this frenetic moonshot, it is inevitable that we have missed out an important event, person or incident. Trying to condense 10 years of stories and all the people who made them happen into one book is impossible. It is not intended to be a complete history of South African politics, but rather how what has happened over the past 10 years in that arena affected and shaped Daily Maverick. During the writing, it became clear that this book could have been a four-volume series.

Many of our journalists have become celebrated public figures in their own right, but behind them is a small but essential team that makes sure the site doesn’t collapse, the bills are paid and the day-to-day workings of the company can continue. Their stories don’t always feature in this book but each of these people is integral to Daily Maverick and our mission to Defend Truth. They are our hidden heroes.

The list of people who have helped us on our mission is long and varied. Some donated time, services and/or money. Others backed us when we started out as a for-profit venture. For this, we are eternally grateful, and we beg forgiveness if we overlook someone or something in these pages. On this one occasion, we acknowledge that it’s okay to be the story. We hope you enjoy the ride.

Styli Charalambous, Publisher & CEO