Business Daily, Kenya’s premier daily business newspaper, relaunches tomorrow 20th March 2017, as it marks 10 years of publishing. The newspaper, published by the Nation Media Group, has been running teaser adverts that promise a new approach to business and economic journalism in Kenya.
The relaunch, which started with a redesign of its website, will come with a new design for the newspaper and refreshed content that appeals to more younger readers, who have been shunning the newspaper. Since it launched on 1st March 2007, Business Daily has positioned itself as an elite premium read, locking out the young and less sophisticated readers.
This has cost it dearly, stunting its readership at just about 10,000 copies per day, according to insiders, who note that the newspaper has huge potential if it can cater more to the needs of young people and women.
Nonetheless, Business Daily, launched by Nick Wachira as Managing Editor ten years ago, has remained stable in the market even though it has made friends and enemies in equal measure. It’s dream was to be a business-friendly newspaper, but it soon realized that was wishful thinking in a country where white-collar has infiltrated even the private sector. Soon, the newspaper became unpopular among some business leaders who were ruffled by its independent reporting, which they saw as sensational and intrusive.
So, they starved the newspaper of advertising in revenge, cancelling ad contracts and diverting them back to Daily Nation or Standard. Business Daily had to survive and so it was forced to tone down and begin to massage the egos of businesses to appease their leaders.
The newspaper’s leadership has changed batons only once: from Mr Wachira to current Managing Editor Ochieng Rapuro, giving it the continuity that’s needed to build a strong newspaper brand.
Business Daily, though, is relaunching at a critical time when it has lost most members of its original brigade, who comprised some of the best trained business journalists in the region. Before launching, it tapped former BBC reporter and trainer Jenny Luesby to help in training journalists on the most basic, but very critical aspects of business journalism, such as backgrounding a story, using numbers and even quotes in ways that make an article more interesting. The thing was to make business articles sexy and attractive to no-tie group of the population.
Most of the journalists have ported with critical knowledge into the mainstream private sector either as communications specialists or into PR agencies as copy writers/editor and media consultants. Some have gone into business, while some have been poached by Standard newspaper.
That’s the critical issue that Business Daily will have to address for its relaunch to have a sustained impact in the market is expanded coverage, as it is often criticized for recycling articles – writing about certain companies over and over again – when the economy has so many businesses that would make interesting reading and which would help it grow its reach.
Media analysts say Business Daily will need to improve on its talent retention strategy to keep its reporters in the newsroom for long. Now it relies on an army of loyal section editors who do the donkey work of training and refining copy from newer reporters who keep coming as the more experienced ones leave.
A decade later, a lot has changed in journalism, with digital technology taking up a lead role in information sharing. Also, it has to better manage the converged model launched by NMG, which appears to be canibalising it, as it shares editors, reporters and articles with Daily Nation businesses desk, which has ended up diluting its exclusive positioning.