Ray Hartley was born in Queenstown, South Africa and attended Queen’s College, where he matriculated in 1982. He then studied at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, completing a BA Hons degree in African History and Journalism. He was part of the committee which succeeded in affliating the university’s SRC to the student movement Nusas. The student organisation attempted to mobilise white students against apartheid and aligned itself with the United Democratic Front. In 1989, he served as Media Officer on the Nusas head office, which was based at Wits University before working for the Human Awareness Programme, which trained anti-apartheid activists.
Hartley worked as an administrator at the Codesa talks where South Africa’s negotiated settlement was mapped out, sitting through the meetings of Working Group 2 where leaders such as Cyril Ramaphosa and Colin Eglin formulated the Bill of Rights.
Determined to enter journalism, Hartley began writing boxing for the then Weekly Mail (now Mail&Guardian) newspaper and was eventually hired by Business Day, where he worked as a political reporter. In 1993, he moved to the Sunday Times, South Africa’s largest circulation newspaper, where he covered the transition from apartheid to democracy. He covered the presidency of Nelson Mandela from Parliament in Cape Town and travelled extensively with him, including on his trips to London, Paris and New Zealand. He travelled to Congo Brazzaville to witness Nelson Mandela’s discussions with Zaire’s Mobutu Seso Seko on board a South African navy ship, the Outeniqua.
Hartley then covered the presidency of Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, traveling with him to Japan, China, South Korea and Hong Kong. In 2000, Hartley was invited to the US on a fellowship programme to cover the election contested by George W Bush and Al Gore. He has also travelled to Germany, Austria, Zambia, Mozambique, Ghana, Thailand and Italy.
Hartley served as political editor, Cape Town bureau chief, national news editor, managing editor and deputy editor for the Sunday Times, before becoming the founding editor of the daily newspaper, The Times and of the website http://www.timeslive.co.za. He was appointed Sunday Times editor in 2010 and served in this position until 2013, when he was appointed Editor at Large for the Times Media Group. He is presently the editor of the Rand Daily Mail online.
Hartley is married to Sylvia and has a daughter, Zoë. His interests include South Africa and African history, politics. He is also a collector of Nelson Mandela stamps and a keen amateur bird photographer.