Newspaper circulation in Kenya facing imminent death?

May 5, 2016
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Figuratively, the circulation of daily English newspapers in 2015 declined to 98,548 copies from 2014's 102,000 marking a by 3.4 percent drop/FILE
Figuratively, the circulation of daily English newspapers in 2015 declined to 98,548 copies from 2014’s 102,000 marking a by 3.4 percent drop/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – The future of newspaper readership in Kenya is on shaky ground. The circulation of daily English and Kiswahili newspapers have continued to decline owing to the growth online readership of news content, says a new study by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Figuratively, the circulation of daily English newspapers in 2015 declined to 98,548 copies from 2014’s 102,000 marking a by 3.4 percent drop.

Kiswahili newspapers similarly continued to decline with only 5,209 copies sold on average down from 5,800 the previous year.

Online readership of news content was the big winner in the battle for readers with an average of 1.5 million online visitors per day that year up from 2014’s 1.02 million marking a 53.7 percent growth.

Weekly newspapers faced a similar challenge with the English newspapers for instance marking a 5.8 decrease to sell 14, 975 copies down from 15,900 copies.

This decline has been the same for four years in a row, according to the bureau.

Florence Omami, a Nairobi resident agrees with the data saying that since she acquired a Smartphone, she does not need a newspaper to keep up with news as the same information is available on the touch of a button.

“Why would I need to pick a newspaper to get information while I can get the same through my Smartphone by clicking on a news website?” she asked.

The price of newspapers is also a factor that a number of those who spoke to Capital Business said. Gregory Odidi for instance said that the price of newspapers – Sh60 – is too much for something that can be found freely online.

“There’s more value in using the Sh60 in buying other things such as data which can give me much more than just a day’s worth of news on a newspaper,” Odidi said.

Ejidious Mutero who has been a newspaper vendor for most of his adult life is quick to agree with the statistics. He explains that the youth especially have no regard for newspapers as they live in the digital world.

“Newspapers are now a reserve of the old who believe in the comfort of a bundle of papers gathered to relay information.”

Asked on how he has managed to stay in business operating from Nairobi’s Standard Street, Mutero says that the presence of corporate companies is what keeps him afloat.

“Thank God you cannot put a Smartphone in a reception for people to access news content as they wait to be served. That is where we mainly source our keep,” Mutero says.

It should however not be assumed that everyone is running to news websites and newspaper apps to get their daily fix of news content.

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