Standard Group unveils modern newsroom for the digital age

NATIONAL |

Standard Group's CEO Orlando Lyomu Standard during the official launch of the Standard group' Converged newsroom launch at the Standard Group's offices along Mombasa Road, Nairobi on November 29, 2021 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

With pomp and colour, the Standard Group yesterday launched its new, ultramodern converged newsroom, breaking away from the pack and into the digital future.

In the historic move, the 120-year-old establishment unveiled the newsroom alongside a new purpose: to make sure news goes digital-first, to prioritise people-centric news gathering and dissemination and to introduce a new frontier in fact-checking.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu, while commending the aesthetic allure of the new newsroom, said the state-of-the-art infrastructure will now be accompanied by state-of-the-art journalism.

Robin Sewell, chairman of the Standard Group, described the transformation as a historic milestone in the journey to penetrate new frontiers.

“It is a result of commitment to transform journalism in Africa. It demonstrates our drive to fuse the content gathering and generating activities of all our media platforms into one coherent and efficient hub that is tuned to the needs of our audience,” Sewell said in a virtual address from London.

The newsroom, a three-level state-of-the-art architectural marvel, brings together journalists across different platforms; radio, TV and print. In the past, the journalists focused on their platforms of specialisation, with the barrier now broken to allow them to work across all platforms. The focus, however, remains in producing content for digital platforms first before the same can be curated for radio, TV and print.

The newsroom’s centerpiece is the Super Desk where the senior editors sit and make collegial decisions. Speed desks, which flank the Super Desk, are tasked with taking content out when it is ready and has been approved by the Super Desk. 

Radar Desk keeps an eye on what is happening across the country in real time. Such news is brought in and then processed for dissemination. 

The Echo Desk constantly keeps an eye on what is happening in the social media space, with what is newsworthy brought in and when ready, passed out to the public. Checkpoint, another desk, anchors the newsroom to a firm foundation of truth and fact by conducting fact-checking.

Further away from the centrepiece, the Economy, Political, Health, Sports and Entertainment desks sit, each with a clear mandate to fulfil.

Further, the newsroom hosts the Output segments, where editors in print, radio and TV sit to finesse the final product before it can be released to the public.

“In the digital space where news can travel around the world in less than 10 minutes, fake news or wrong information can be embraced with the same passion as real news. We decided to become the media house where facts come first. We prefer to be first - in disseminating information - but with facts,” Lyomu said.

Chief guest Esther Koimett, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), lauded the Standard Group, which has grown in leaps and bounds, stamping its authority as the region’s leading provider of real-time, factual information.

“Such agility and willingness to embrace more efficient ways of doing business will ensure that the Standard Group remains relevant in an increasingly competitive sector,” she said.

“This ultramodern converged newsroom is the mirror of what the Standard Group has become over the years: a mature, confident and dynamic media house that is proud of its heritage and is in step with Kenya’s predominantly youthful and urban population.”

She said that convergence is the way to go as the producers and consumers of content can all actively participate in news production.

“Media convergence offers more opportunity for the public to be more involved in the story while offering the reporter and the editor more integrated tools to tell the story,” she said.  “It is important because it blends content, communication, technologies and computer networks thus leading to the immediate transformations of many established industries’ services and work practices. Through this, new forms of content are borrowed or shared.”

Ochieng Rapuro, the Standard Group Editor-in-Chief, said the multi-million investment in the ultramodern newsroom shows the confidence shareholders have in the critical role the media plays, especially in a young democracy.

“It is a mark of confidence in the media as a viable and profitable business that is worth their money. The transformation is a defining moment in the history of independent journalism as a public good and the media as a business,” he said.

He also noted that the journey to this convergence began in earnest two years ago with the launch of vibrant radio stations, Vybez and Spice.

“This was followed by the redesign of our flagship print publication, The Standard, in April this year. Alongside standardmedia.co.ke (standard digital website), we also launched competitive video and podcast offering,” he said.

Kizito Namulanda, the Intake Editor who has midwifed the convergence newsroom, said that content provided by the Group will be deep and well researched, “more than what we can find on social media”.

And Caroline Kimutai, the digital editor, expressed her joy at seeing “walls collapse” and journalists ease into all platforms.

“Everyone is now a journalist at the Standard Group without a tag of TV, radio or newspaper. And everyone is digital-first. News is compiled for digital first, to match the change where everyone is using the phone,” she said.

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