Carole Kimutai is expected to grow Standard Digital even as competition grows

Standard Group is expanding its digital team as it seeks to reap more from its online platforms.

The company, which is the second largest media house in Kenya, has hired former Tuko editor Carole Kimutai to head its digital section and align it with the changing media consumption trends. (see interview with Carole here)

Ms Kimutai, the founding editor of Tuko who left the news website late last year, is expected to lead a team of 30 that’s being assembled to work on Standard Digital. Tuko is currently ranked top website in Kenya in terms of visits, having overtaken online versions of mainstream media houses including Nation, Standard, The star, Citizen and People.

Ms Kimutai will join Standard mid-July to takeover Standard Digital as Managing Editor, and will be up against a Tuko that’s more ferocious than she left it.

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Standard Group has lately been investing more in digital to back up its mainstream print and broadcast channels.

Standard CEO Sam Shollei says the media house has recruited two experienced minds to its digital segment. “We are increasing capacity and broadening the skills sets,” Mr Shollei told BUSINESS TODAY. “We are targeting to have a team of 30 people with half of them experienced and the rest being trainees.”

He said Standard Digital is being positioned as semi-autonomous unit so it can explore more growth options, and will be backed up by increased investment. He said with the content generation costs already taken care of by the mainstream Standard platforms – KTN and Standard newspapers journalists – additional investment would go into growing talent and acquiring the necessary assets and resources.

Interview:  Carole Kimutai talks about her new role at Standard

“We are basically investing for the future. There’s gonna be money as digital media consumption is growing,” he said. “Even the government is going digital and broadband infrastructure is expanding, which will ease access to digital services through mobile devices and computers.”

Mainstream media houses have refocused energies on digital, with Nation Media Group (NMG) and Radio Africa Group launching their ‘digital-first’ strategies, where news breaks online and other digital channels before beaming on the conventional media.

Digital is shaping up as the new battle ground for media and it looks certain to be an eventful scene in the next few years. When it comes to advertising, there are now options but media managers have to continuously be creative.

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Ms Kimutai is upbeat about her new assignment. She says going heavy on digital by Standard Group is all part of the convergence strategy aimed at giving factual stories creatively using the digital platforms

“Standard is 100-plus years old,” she said in an interview. “It has to change with the times. Same way BBC is doing. It’s about easy access to credible news. After Tuko you can see legacy media has taken digital seriously. That’s a good sign.”

[crp]

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