During the apartheid years, journalists like Benjamin Pogrund reported on political and economic issues affecting black South Africans about which whites were largely ignorant. Pogrund, for example, reported on the Sharpeville massacre of 1960.
On 3 November 1978 The Rand Daily Mail journalists Mervyn Rees and Chris Day reported on the use of public funds since 1973 to set up a disinformation network in South Africa and abroad. The money was used in attempts to buy The Washington Star, and to set up The Citizen as a government-controlled counter to The Rand Daily Mail.
Hounded by the state, the paper's board decided to water down the paper for the sake of attracting more affluent white readers. This strategy led to financial losses and The Rand Daily Mail was forced to close in 1985, eighty-three years after it was founded
After its closure, the black newspaper The Sowetan described The Rand Daily Mail as the first white newspaper to regard blacks as human beings. Yet for most of the apartheid period (1948-1990) the paper suffered from poor management, government infiltration, and state censorship The management often tried to replace more liberal editors with conservative ones.
After the closure of The Rand Daily Mail, some of its journalists (like Anton Harber and Irwin Manoim] ) pooled their severance pay to start The Weekly Mail (now The Mail & Guardian), which carried on the anti-apartheid stance of its predecessor paper.