Introduction to Kenyan News Media
Kenya has quite a vast network of media, including more than 91 FM stations and 64-plus news channels that are free to air. There are no confirmed numbers of print publications such as newspapers, magazines and journals operating in Kenya. News websites have also evolved in an unconfirmed volume within the Kenyan boundaries over the years. Most of the newspapers and websites in Kenya report news in English, while some of the print publications operate in Swahili or community-based languages throughout the East African nation.
The Media Council of Kenya — an independent institution registered under the Media Act, 2007 — regulates the Kenyan media. The regulatory body is also responsible for the conduct and discipline of journalists working across the nation. Kenyan journalists can register and accredit themselves with the Media Council of Kenya, which also registers media establishments and receives complaints registered by the public. The body also publishes a media audit on Media Freedom in Kenya every year.
As far as newspapers are concerned, there are two prominent national dailies — The Daily Nation and The Standard — that operate in the region. Two daily free newspapers — X News and The People Daily are equally popular among the Kenyan readers. Business Daily and The Star are two prominent most specialised daily newspapers. One weekly newspaper, The East African, is being widely circulated in regions like Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Kampala.
The Daily Nation was established in 1960 by the Nation Media Group. The paper rose to prominence during the governance of former Kenya president Daniel Moi.
The Nation Media Group also owns Nation TV, a news channel, and the weekly regional newspaper The East African. The East African has the majority of its readers based in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. With leading dailies and a news channel, the Nation Media Group has its media dominance in central and East Africa.
The Standard was established in 1902 under the name ‘East African Standard’. The national daily is considered as a prime critic of government policies. The Standard is owned by a business group that was earlier associated with Moi.
Kenya Times was another relevant newspaper in the region, which was established by the KANU party in 1983. It discontinued its publication in June 2010.
Under the presidency rule of Mwai Kibaki, from December 2002 to April 2013, the media gained editorial independence that was missing in the previous years. The abuse of press freedom has declined in the region since then. However, some of the government actions and policies still aim at curbing the Kenyan press freedom.
According to a new rule, a publication needs to sign a costly bond before the registration. In 2003, the government was reported intimidating journalists who were reporting on a possible political murder. A restrictive constitutional provision on court coverage was imposed on the media. In March 2006, the offices of The Standard and Kenya Television Network were raided by the hooded policemen over suspicion of breach of internal security.
Kenyan newspapers and websites’ list
Here below, we have mentioned some of the widely read Kenyan newspapers and websites. We have explained their origin, operations, status and popularity among the Kenyan readers within the East African nation as well as from the neighbouring countries.
Daily Nation is the most widely read daily newspaper in Kenya and its neighbouring countries. The paper boasts of leading a heritage of objectivity, truthfulness and the unbiased reporting of everyday political affairs. Daily Nation is the only Kenyan newspaper registered with The Audit Bureau of Circulation.
In 1958, Englishman Charles Hayes started the weekly newspaper printed in Swahili under the title ‘Taifa’. In 1959, Aga Khan bought the newspaper rights. In January 1960, he converted it into a national daily with the title ‘Taifa Leo’ that loosely translates to ‘nation today’ in Swahili.
On October 3, Daily Nation was published as an English language edition of Taifa Leo. Michael Curtis, a former editor of the British News Chronicle, is credited for the birth of Daily Nation. East African Newspapers (Nation Series) Ltd was the initial publisher of the English daily and later acquired the business under the company name ‘Nation Media Group’.
The Nation Media Group today enjoys a lion share of media business in Kenya and operates throughout the African Great Lakes region.
The group publishes Daily Nation newspaper from its headquarters at Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, in Nairobi. The newspaper has a website too that offers news to the Kenyan readers as well as international readers on the internet and various social media platforms. The news website also hosts various online editions of Daily Nation and its Sunday supplements.
Nairobi News is one of the websites hosted by the Daily Nation. It is quite popular among the Kenyan readers for its coverage of the latest news, gossip, celebrity, lifestyle and sports from the heart of Nairobi.
Taifa Leo, the only Swahili-language newspaper published from Kenya, has a separate website under the subdomain of Daily Nation. Until February 2018, Taifa Leo published its content on the Swahili website ‘Swahilihub’.
The new news website is known for its credible content in Swahili covering topics like current affairs, politics, features and sports.
The Standard is the oldest and one of the largest newspapers in Kenya. Owned by The Standard Group, the newspaper has 48 percent market share. For the unversed, The Standard Group also runs the Kenya Television Network (KTN), Radio Maisha, weekly tabloid The Nairobian, KTN News and online platform Standard Digital.
The origin of The Standard dates back to 1902 when an immigrant businessman from British India, Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee, established the newspaper and named it African Standard. Initially, it was a weekly publication. After two years of operations, in 1905, the newspaper was sold to Maia Anderson and Rudolf Franz Mayer, who changed its name to the East African Standard. By the time, it has become a daily newspaper.
In 1963, a British-based Lonrho Group bought East African Standard, a few months before Kenya’s independence on 12 December 1963. In 1977, the newspaper’s name was changed to The Standard only to be revoked later. The name was again changed to The Standard in 2004.
The Standard’s main competitor is Kenya’s largest newspaper, the Daily Nation.
Kipkoech Tanui is the editor of The Standard daily editions while John Bundotich heads the weekend editions.
In late February 2006, The Standard published a story claiming that President Mwai Kibaki and senior opposition leader Kalonzo Musyoka had been holding secret meetings. Three journalists at The Standard were arrested after the story came out. They were released on bail of 50,000 Kenyan shillings (US$692) on March 2 same year.
The sensational story also resulted in attacks at the office of The Standard and television station KTN on the same day. Masked gunmen carrying AK-47s kicked and thrashed staff members, snatched computers, transmission equipment and set ablaze all the copies of the March 2 edition of the newspapers. At KTN, they put the station off air by shutting down the electricity supply.
Tuko is a Kenyan digital news platform that has a dedicated team to provide the readers within the region with the relevant and interactive experience. The Kenyan news website boasts of publishing high-quality content “by combining high-tech instruments with editorial expertise”.
“Our primary goal is to create and share stories which give you positive emotions, inspire and empower,” Tuko says on its website.
Tuko is active on breaking news and makes sure its readers do not miss out on important updates. The news portal creates relevant content for the Kenyan readers and uses multiple channels to distribute it.
What do the cover?
The website keeps its readers updated with the news related to current affairs, human interest, celebrity news and gossip or stories trending on social media. Tuko also covers real events and publishes news based on the life of people from Kenya as well as those staying out of the East African nation.
With a non-biased approach, Tuko tries to provide a clear explanation of the reported facts from all parties associated with the news. The news website in its About Us section claims that it does not “justify violence” and shows “the world in its diversity”.
With the help of cutting-edge technology, the website aims at flooding the readers’ news feed with speed and accuracy. In 2018, the Tuko Kenyan news website was awarded the best entertainment news platform at the annual Digital Inclusion Awards.
For the convenience of the Kenyan readers, Tuko shares its content through all possible platforms, such as mobile applications, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.
In 2020, Gibendi Hanningtone Ramenya was the Managing Director of Tuko. Until then, he had over eight years of experience in print and online media. Having shown leadership skills, Ramenya has been in the managerial role at TUKO Media since 2016.
Ghafla is a news website that was started as an entertainment online news portal by Samuel Majani in 2011. In 2016, Ghafla launched itself as a complete news website, dropping its initial policy of covering purely entertainment news and embracing politics, current affairs and various other beats of the news.
Deal with Ringier
In the same year, the Kenyan news portal Ghafla was bought for a Ksh 60 million by a Swiss firm, Ringier.
Earlier, Majani owned 85 percent shareholding in the news website. He had denied that the company had been purchased by Ringier, before an official invite of the launch revealed Majani was retained as co-CEO for just one year to aid the transition.
Majani pocketed Ksh 51 million from the deal with Ringier Africa Digital Publishing Company.
Ghafla’s second innings
Ghafla’s partnership with Ringier consolidated its position as Kenya’s top entertainment news website and strengthened it editorially. Ghafla’s redeveloped website could serve Kenyan readers news on politics, current affairs and international affairs and gained popularity with an increase in followership.
The Kenyan news website also increased its video and convergent content across all sections and channels.
At the launch event, Majani was quoted as saying that Ghafla started in a Kenyan bedroom and went on to partner with one of the largest African media enterprises. He added that the partnership will help the online publication gain global expertise.
Citizen TV is a television channel, which broadcasts in two languages – English and Swahili. Owned by Royal Media Services, Citizen TV was started in 1999. Royal Media Services is the largest private radio and television network in the Eastern Africa.
Later in June 2006, the news channel was launched again. Citizen TV broadcasts a variety of shows ranging from entertainment programs, soap operas to news. On October 7, 2019, the channel unveiled a line-up of brand new programs including Johari, Deceptive measures, Rebecca, Heart of a Champion, Maria, Inspekta Mwala, Tahidi High and Papa Shirandula.
Some of the popular presenters of Citizen TV are Waihiga Mwaura, Yvone Okwara Matole, Jeff Koinange, Victoria Rubadiri, Trevor Ombija, Lilian Muli among others. News Gang, Tonight, Day Break are some of the popular news-based shows of the channel.
On 22 July 2018, Citizen TV introduced their new television studio along with their star news anchor couple. Lulu Hassan and Rashid Abdalla became the first married couple to present news on the Kenyan television.
According to international research firm Ipsos, in 2016, Citizen TV had a 62.5% share of the television market of Kenya.
Samuel Kamau Macharia is the founder and chairman of Royal Media Services. He was in the top ten list of African millionaires (now a billionaire) released by Forbes magazine in 2012. Macharia had his own fair share of controversies. Earlier this year, he escaped repaying a multimillion-shilling loan that he owed to a US-based financier.
In 2019, Macharaia took over the management of a trouble insurance firm DirectLine Assurance Company, the largest public service vehicle (PSV) underwriter of Kenya in a corporate coup. He went on to declare himself the chairman and director of the firm.
Citizen TV has a news portal, Citizen Digital. One can also access the news via Citizen Digital mobile app.
Mphaso describes itself as “Radio Africa’s fastest and most exciting hub of Lifestyle and entertainment news”. One can get all the news and updates related to fashion, music, celebrities at the website named Mphaso. The Radio Africa Group owns this digital platform that operates in English.
For the unversed, the Radio Africa Group is one of the emerging media companies of Kenya. The group owns six national radio stations, one TV station along with a national newspaper. Their media brands include Kiss 100, Classic 105, Radio Jambo, X FM, East FM, Relax FM, The Star newspaper, Jambo Turkana, Bamba TV, Songa App and Kiss Television.
Patrick Quarcoo, a Ghanaian Kenya-based entrepreneur, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Radio Africa Group. Quarcoo was awarded an international recognition award at the Ghana UK-Based Achievement Awards in 2012.
Quarcoo was a young journalist when he came up with an idea and decided to amalgamate six radio segments – reporting on what was happening in Ghana. He then sent them to the BBC World Service out of which three segments were taken up by BBC. Soon, he regularly started reporting for BBC, Voice of America, and other stations in London.
The Radio Africa Group has three of the top five radio stations in Nairobi. Martin Khafafa, Robert Kibutiri, Caroline Mutoko, Kamal Vekaria, James Njoroge, Peter Sinclair, Danny Muchira, and Maina Kageni are some of the important persons at the Radio Africa Group.
The Star, a daily newspaper was launched in July 2007. It was first named as the Nairobi Star and then after two years, it was rebranded as The Star in 2009. The Star is based in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.
In 2007, The Star‘s circulation was 5,000–8,000 copies which rose to around 15,000–20,000 copies in 2010. The newspaper is said to have made a profit for the first time in September 2009.
Similar to Mphaso, The Star, too, is owned by the Radio Africa Group, a popular media company in the region. It operates six radio stations in Kenya, including Radio Jambo, XFM, East FM, Kiss FM and Classic 105. It also owns a TV station. Back in the 90s, when Kiss100 was launched, it significantly shifted radio marketing and content paradigms in Kenya. The radio channel is known for its provocative and risqué tone of communication.
More about the newspaper
The Star is the third-largest newspaper in the country. It is a 32-page tabloid-style newspaper with main focus on human interest stories in Nairobi and across Kenya.
According to the media reports, in December 2019, the Radio Africa Group laid off over 150 staff members in the wake of the economic crisis in the media industry that year.
Business Daily (Nairobi)
Business Daily is a newspaper published out of Nairobi by the Nation Media Group. It also runs a digital platform in English, businessdailyafrica.com. The website not only carries stories related to economy, business, and market and corporate but also features lifestyle and hardcore news. It also has a section of Opinion & Analysis.
Describing itself in the ‘About Us’ section, Business Daily writes, “We aim to prime the African continent for economic take-off. The media is in a position to do this. In business, knowledge is power, and factual, relevant and early information is the chance to make better business. However, we aim to do more than help investors and businesses by delivering sight and insights”.
“We are dedicated to unfolding the issues at stake, informing the debate, and providing hard-hitting, but fair comment and analysis. Our vision of journalism is to employ our time and skills to provide you with the information that genuinely makes a difference: wherever it comes from,” it writes further.
The Group CEO is Stephen Gitagama and Group Editorial Director is Mutuma Mathiu. Meanwhile, the Managing Editor is Ng’ang’a Mbugua
One can reach out to Business Daily either via email- firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on the contact number- +254 20 328 8135. If one wants to subscribe to the newspaper, that can be done directly by contacting at the given email address- email@example.com. Daily newsletter is also provided to its subscribers for free of cost.
Daily Post is another popular news website in Kenya that promises to deliver excellence with its stand-alone content. On the website, the company Kenyan Daily Post claims itself as Kenyan readers’ “number one source for all gossip and the juiciest stories in Kenya, East Africa and across the world”.
The Kenyan news website is dedicated to give its users the best and latest of the news, with a bold, fearless and unique approach. On its official Facebook page, the Kenyan Daily Post states that the company hopes that the readers enjoy its posts as much as it enjoys writing for them.
One can leave questions and comments for the Daily Post on the ‘Contact Us’ section of the website.
Pulse is Kenya’s digital news platform that provides stories related to entertainment, style and news. “There are many voices out there covering news, music, movies and entertainment in general. PulseLive Kenya is there to make those voices louder and connect with a global audience,” writes the website in its About Us section.
PulseLive Kenya is owned by Ringier Africa, which is one of the leading investors in the Sub Saharan Africa region.
For the unversed, Ringier entered Africa in 2011 with its sole focus on harnessing and capitalising the emerging digital potential of the market. Within a few years, Ringier Africa not only had placed itself in media with its investment in pulse but was also operating the leading classifieds group ROAM (Ringier One Africa Media).
Besides Kenya, Ringier operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.
The 98.4 Capital FM, which is also called Capital FM and Capital FM Kenya, is an urban music radio station of Kenya. Its office is situated on the 19th floor of Lonrho House, along Standard Street in the central business district of Nairobi, the capital city. Capital FM was the second radio station that was established after 101.9 Metro FM in 1996, soon after the liberalisation of the Kenyan airwaves.
Capital FM is owned by businessman Chris Kirubi. He is one of the affluent persons in Kenya.
The 98.4 Capital FM is a popular station among the middle-class and upper-class audience. The presenters entertain their audience by playing songs from a variety of genres like hip hop, RnB, rock, neo soul, new jack swing, world music, jazz, techno and dance music. Capital FM now caters to Mombasa, Western Kenya and also the international community through the internet.
Back in July 2015, when The United States of America’s President Barack Obama visited Kenya, he gave an exclusive one-on-one interview to 98.4 Capital FM. It was among the two one-on-one radio interviews that Obama gave during his visit.
The Capital Digital Media, a section within the Capital FM Company, handles all digital media presence of the radio channel.
As we mentioned this earlier as well, The EastAfrican is a Kenyan weekly newspaper owned and published by the Nation Media Group. The media giant also publishes the prominent-most newspaper ‘Daily Nation’ and thus owns a plethora of news websites in Kenya.
The EastAfrican weekly newspaper is circulated all across Kenya and its neighbouring countries of the African Great Lakes region. The weekly has its readers based in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
The newspaper, which also pushes out stories online on its website, features in-depth analysis from each country in the region along with the stories from the other parts of the world.
The media conglomerate Nation Media Group was initially known as East African Newspapers (Nation Series) Ltd. when it started publishing Daily Nation on October 3, 1960. Michael Curtis, former editor of the British News Chronicle, is often credited for the origin of the newspaper giants of Kenya.
The weekly newspaper is published at the Nation Media Group headquarters in Kimathi Street, Nairobi.
Business Today is a news portal based out of Nairobi, Kenya. Kenyan journalist Luke Mulunda, who gained popularity in Kenya with his stint with the Nation Media Group, founded Business Today in 2012.
Mulunda worked as business editor at the Nation Media Group and thus, used his expertise to start a website focussed on the news related to business, economics, stock exchange markets, technology and media.
The readership of the Kenyan business website has grown with time.
Business Today won Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) awards for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
On the website, Business Today states itself as a “blog” for all the information related to business with speed and accuracy. The website covers all business news from within the local region and the rest of the world. “We stand out from the rest,” reads an explanatory remark on the website.
On its official Facebook page, Business Today calls itself Kenya’s prime source of breaking news, media updates, business news, management insight, NSE Kenya updates, entrepreneurship, and career advice.
Deal with Ricardo Badoer
In 2018, Dubai-based businessman Ricardo Badoer acquired 75 shares of the Kenyan business news portal with Mulunda continuing to own the remaining 25 percent.
Nairobi Wire is a leading news and entertainment Kenyan website that has built its user base with time. The blogs on Nairobi Wire aim at providing its readers accurate and timely news.
Nairobi Wire was established in 2012 and now has more than one million readers a month, claims the website in its About Us section.
The Kenyan news website does not hesitate to take strong positions on issues of national interest. On the website, Nairobi Wire claims that it is “NOT paid” by either the government or opposition parties or individuals.
Nairobi Wire boasts of an editorial team that upholds journalistic standards in reporting and does not hesitate to rectify any of its mistakes.
The People Daily is a newspaper based in Nairobi. People Daily is owned by Mediamax Network Ltd, a Kenyan media company, that is also the parent company to K24TV, Kameme TV, Pilipili FM, Mayian FM, Milele FM and Meru FM.
The newspaper also has a digital version, People Daily Online, that provides news related to business, entertainment, lifestyle, health, sports. It also has a section of ePaper, opinion and special features.
One can get the latest updates by following it on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Kenya News Agency
The Kenya News Agency (KNA), established in 1963, is the flagship of the Department of Information. Its main work is to gather, process and disseminate the local print and electronic news. It works as a medium to make Kenyan public aware of the Government’s policies, projects, programmes and initiatives. Its predecessor, the Kenyan Information Service (KIS), formed in 1939, worked to disseminate information on World War II.
KNA’s 24 County Information Resources Centers (IRCs) and 11 Regional Publications are the main centres for gathering and disseminating content. A vast country-wide network gives KNA a lot of advantage over other media organizations.
Mwakilishi is owned by the Mwakilishi Media Group. It is a registered Limited Liability Company, which operates under the laws of the state of Maryland in the United States of America. The Kenyan news website caters to the interest of the Kenyan Diaspora community. They also welcome contributions in the form of guest blogs.
According to Kenya Today, the content on its digital news platform is for informational purposes only. “The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site,” it mentions in the About Us section.
In the About Us section, Kenyan News describes itself as “Kenya’s first and leading home-grown and independent news aggregation service”.
Besides hard news, one can get stories related to business, health, entertainment, technology and sports on Kenyan News. One can follow it on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The newspaper industry is dominated by two publishing houses in Kenya — the Nation and Standard. They enjoy a lion share of the readership on the news websites business as well in direct competition with Ringier Africa Group. Founded in 1833, the Switzerland-based Ringier AG is a media group that has emerged as a leading investor in the online publications within the Sub Saharan African region.
In 2019, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Kenya has seen “a slow erosion” of press freedom with the time. The political inclinations and security concerns have restricted the freedom of media houses. Numerous cases of journalists being harassed by government and security forces have been reported in the past. The self-censorship is another big problem that curbs press freedom in the East African nation.
As far as the new media is concerned, Kenya leads the Sub Saharan region with impressive internet connectivity, mobile phones usage and people’s engagement on social media. According to the InternetWorldStats, the nation recorded about 43 million internet users in June 2019, which is 83 percent of the total Kenyan population.
The InternetWorldStats claimed in another report that Facebook recorded close to seven million active users by 2018. The data revealed further that the media houses, politicians, activists, influencers and brands have had major following on social media.
However, to curb the press freedom on the internet, the government imposed a cyber crime law in 2018. The law criminalises vaguely-defined offences and allows disciplinary action against journalists. The law has been criticised by experts from within and out of Kenya alike.
While the propelling industry knows no bounds, we at MediaBuzz are working hard to provide encyclopedic coverage of all the news sources. We are a team of professional writers with a knack for the trends in the world of journalism.
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