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May 22


​Randy or Moderate? Lessons from Nairobi News' closure.

The nation woke up on Wednesday to sad news of Daily Nation's tabloid Nairobi News' closure, a move which they termed as necessitated by the paper's slow sales growth amid rising publishing costs. The paper was launched last November, barely a year ago at the Sankara hotel in presence of Nairobi governor Evans Kidero. It's entrance was stated by Nation's CEO Linus as a response to the growth of news market created by devolution. Months later, the question is what exactly went wrong?

Arch rivals Standard Group had only launched The Nairobian months before, a fact that critics argued the new entrant was setup to compete with the former in a newspaper business that was at its peak. Both papers were tailored to capture the attention of city dwellers. However, while Nairobi News remained moderate and liberal, its foe The Nairobian decided to go rogue with headlines like of how a senator purportedly raped a house help. Interestingly, Daily Metro, another brain child of Nation went down the same road after a short period in the market.

Although Nairobi News' farewell stated crippling economic times was to blame, there's more to this since her nemesis The Nairobian stills stands strong and has never given any signs of possible exit. The Nairobian's decision to carry on randy stories could have attracted a large fan base and chocked her enemy. People have no time for what could be considered informative stories as they are deemed boring. Gossip and sex stories create hits. I was an ardent reader and fan of Nairobi News and considered it way ahead as compared to her foe but I guess it was a case of an enthusiast who squelched gossip.

The market strategy has always been to be all inclusive and cater for the thirst of the bigger block, something Nairobi News heads won't admit they got it wrong. It will be interesting to see the next move Nation's next although it is highly unlikely that Nairobi News will make a comeback. Meanwhile, The Nairobian takes over.

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