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Standard back in town amid grumbling by top editors

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Standard Group, the publisher of Standard group of newspapers, has finally relocated its newsroom back to the city centre, after nearly a decade operating along Mombasa Road.

The company, which also owns KTN and Radio Maisha and The Nairobian weekly newspaper, has moved back to I&M, the iconic building in the city centre which it had dumped for its own premises.

The newspaper’s daily section moved this week to expanded its skeleton newsdesk at I&M, while the weekend team is expected to move tomorrow, Sunday 2nd July, amid grumbling by some senior editors who had become too comfortable at Standard Centre. Disagreement between editors and management delayed the planned move by almost a month.

KTN’s production and main studios a Radio Maisha will remain at Standard Centre, but reporters are moving to town. All print editorial staff and their bosses are moving to the city centre. Management, led by CEO Sam Shollei, is also shifting, and will occupy an entire floor.

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During the move, Standard’s management hoped to cut down on rental costs by using its own offices which brought together all operations, including the printing press. The beauty of having a printing press a biscuit’s throw away meant easy coordination with editorial and a quick turnaround of the newspapers, which ensured they hit the streets earlier than its competitors, Nation and the Star.

The relocation, while a major relief on the balance sheet, soon started worked against its journalists since it had moved away from the city centre, Upper Hill and Westlands, which are the nerve centre of media activities.

READ: Online news guru lands big job at Standard

The traffic jam on Mombasa road did not help things, with its journalists getting late to functions or even missing them entirely. This will be a major relief to the reporters, but has not gone down well with editors who found Mombasa Road hustle-free.

Also, editors who enjoyed huge airy offices at Standard Centre will have to get used to smaller spaces. The editors unsuccessfully opposed the move, with management favouring city centre.

“Guys are unhappy,” said a Standard newspaper editor who was opposed to the move.  “The decision has been been bulldozed through. Our opinion never mattered and no one cares about it. But the question I, when are we gonna move back to Mombasa Road?  Because this is clearly a bad idea. The town offices are so crammed up. It’s like a cyber cafe.”

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The company had initially planned to move to the nearby ICEA Building, owned by JKUAT, but changed its mind after it emerged that the university would also host its Nairobi campus on the same building, which would cause too much human traffic for a media house.

The return to I&M will also rekindle the bad memories of the attack on Standard in March 2006, when mercenaries raided its KTN studios at the building and switched them off and burned newspapers at its printing press then located at Likoni Road in industrial area.

The relocation will disrupt some employees who had moved to stay in estates on Mombasa Road for easy access to their workplace. It will also hurt its revenues by increasing costs, as the company is back to paying rent.

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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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