Today is a big day for the Standard Group and the media fraternity in general. What with the relaunching of KTN News and launching the most modern converged digital-first newsroom in East and Central Africa.
The group has been on a transformation journey that started in 1902 through colonial Kenya; through the early days of independence to modern Kenya and, in the process, claiming a major share in the media sector having pioneered the first free-to-air privately-owned television station — KTN.
Broadcast PS Esther Koimett lauded Standard Group for keeping the country informed through balanced reporting, mature and dynamic reporting as she stressed the need to tell more effective stories through convergence.
The PS said the organisation had taken content from the traditional print space to the modern Kenyan audience.
Koimett said the Standard Grup was the first media house in Africa to convert news into one interconnected unit.
She lauded the group for "speaking truth to power and holding officeholders into account which qualifies the media as the Fourth Estate."
She said press freedom was enshrined in the constitution which is why the government respected the freedom of expression but warned journalists against sensation and reporting from unverified sources.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said SG had always set the pace recalling his first-ever interview as a rapper was on KTN.
Sakaja said the setup of the converged newsroom was central to modern journalism
"The urgency of getting news out there quickly has created room for spreaders of fake news," said Sakaja.
"But," he added “leaders will always lead”.
Sakaja urged SG to redefine news sharing. “Don’t amplify sentiments that will tear the country apart," he cautioned.
Further, he added that in as much as businesses had taken a hit, media houses should play a lot of local shows to support the creative economy.
Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris lauded SG for flying above the Covid-19 pandemic cloud, which hurt many businesses.
She said Kenya's was a positive message to other businesses that even with challenges, they can still remain afloat.
Passaris asked the group to mount a war against Gender-Based violence and criticised people who were misusing cyberspace against women.
"Media houses should condemn the misuse of the digital space," she said.
SG deputy chairman Julius Kipng'etich said journalism will not end regardless of digital transformations.
He added that not everybody was in the business of telling proper stories and therefore, journalism would never die adding that the Standard Group was reorganising itself to be a better and stronger storyteller.
"There will be always interpreters, integrators and synthesisers," he said underlining the centrality of professional journalists.
He said stakeholders and customers will move with customers for 24hrs regardless of where they were.
Group CEO Orlando Lyomu said much as Standard was started in 1902, "heritage does not sustain you but it gives you the ground on which to stand".
He reminded the audience that "opportunities and demographic dividends keep on changing as consumers are not the same."
He added that the accelerated business transformation that started in 2018 entailed passion, and dedication which led to the realisation of Spice FM and Vybz Radio, among other products.
"Where everyone strives to be first, Standard aims to be first with the facts," said Mr Lyomu of the group's business strategy.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic presented challenges, but two years into it, the converged newsroom project still sailed.
"We didn't waste a good crisis ... as people worked from home, we continued with the construction of the newsroom," observed the CEO. Since then, he added, "we have been on a journey of adopting".
Mr Lyomu called for collaborations from both the industry stakeholders and even competition.
"The pillar of partnerships is at the forefront of our transformation goal."
He however added that the role of media to hold people accountable, cannot be underestimated.
Advertising mogul Bharat Thakrar lauded the Standard Group for attaining a digital-first newsroom.
"You listen to what the people want and embrace technology, " he said of the group.
The group's Editor-in-Chief Ochieng Rapuro a said: "Our converged newsroom will, in the medium term, not only serve as a centre of journalistic excellence but also Africa's largest experiment in innovation and training in multi-media journalism.
"Henceforth, when you interact with us on any of our platforms, you will appreciate our faithfulness to the mission of journalism," he said.
He said the group's focus was on issues that are in the public interest.
"Ours is a meticulous execution of the onerous task of underwriting Kenya's nascent democracy and its fledgling free-market economy. We intend to be consistent in our effort to provide context, depth, and meaning to what is happening right here in our country and around the world".
Most importantly, said Mr Rapuro: "We promise to watch your back in the volatile and dangerous world of disinformation, misinformation, fake news, and its discontents in the digital space. Indeed, you can bank on us for fact-checked and solid information you can use to make life's many critical decisions."
The event was moderated by the director of Strategy Ben Omollo and Features Editor and News anchor Sharon Momanyi officially opened by a word of prayer.
On his part, Head of News Kipkoech Tanui cited revamped visuals, exclusive news, and an overhaul of revenue sources as some of the characteristics of the converged newsroom.