Standard Media Group is set to start a Swahili publication after acquiring Coast-based Pambazuko.
Hitherto, only the Nation Media Group owned a national Swahili newspaper, Taifa Leo, after the Standard ceased publication of Baraza, another Swahili newspaper founded in 1939 but which folded shortly before independence, was later revived and then folded again. Earlier on, Tazama, another Swahili publication had ceased operations.
The move by the Standard, which is expanding by launching new TV and radio channels, has, however, surprised industry watchers as most media houses are running away from print to digital publications.
Even Taifa Leo has continued to exist for psychological reasons as it does not break even but His Highness the Aga Khan overruled plans to stop publication, saying it is part of Nation’s heritage.
The newspaper was started in 1960 as did the Daily Nation but its Sunday edition, Taifa Jumapili, was stopped in 1999.
There has been a drastic drop in circulation for mainstream newspapers including Nation and Standard by over 40% as readers opt for digital sources of news. Some non-mainstream papers and magazine are struggling while some have been forced to close shop.
It is believed the Standard Group is mostly eyeing untapped opportunities in the Coastal region whose economic and political fortunes have been on the rise with the introduction of county governments under the devolved system.
Pampazuko has been a champion of the region’s interests styling itself as ‘Gazeti Rasmi La Pwani’ ( the Official Coastal Newspaper).