“Starting a print newspaper in an emerging market can be profitable,” said William Pike, CEO of Kenya’s The Star . It is a lot of hard work, he said, but from its foundations in 2007, The Star is now the third paper in the Kenyan market and has made a small profit.
Many say that as mobile adoption rises in Africa, it will threaten print, as online has in many other countries, but Pike thinks this view should be seen with a critical eye. He was speaking at the 19th World Editors Forum in Kiev last week.
“We believe that there is still a great market in print,” he continued, with just one paper published per 140 people in the country (in comparison to one per two in markets where readership is highest.) Young people still want to read newspapers, and he highlighted research that showed that more 18-34 year olds read newspapers than go on the internet, or listen to CDs. TV and radio still provide a larger threat than digital.
The Star is a subsidiary of Radio Africa, which operates both Kiss FM and Classic FM in Kenya. Its aim is to be low-cost but high-quality. It breaks big, hard-hitting stories that have an impact on the community, and Pike cited this as an essential quality for success for a new paper. It is also important to be analytical with good op-eds, he said.