Quality or Gossip Journalism: Mogul who would have changed Kenya’s media

Mogul who would have changed Kenya’s media – Daily Nation’s News story


Mr Rupert Murdoch reads a copy of the London Times.

Photo/FILE Mr Rupert Murdoch reads a copy of the London Times.  

A year after launching the Nation in 1959, His Highness the Aga Khan was finding the new venture a little more financially demanding than he had imagined it would be.

The young paper, pitched at the emerging audience of Africans entering the job market, was yet to attract a readership that could help it settle the bills.

The demands for more money from the editors in Nairobi were unremitting and self-sufficiency was perhaps a decade or more away.

The young proprietor needed an investor to share the financial burden. The Aga Khan also felt, Nation veteran Gerry Loughran writes in his history of the paper, that a new investor would add gravitas to the paper especially if he came from an established global media house.

Not too many investors in establishments such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post and the Observer were interested.

But one thrusting, ambitious 29-year-old media baron in the making was enthusiastic.

Fascinated by plans

“Fascinated by your plans,” Rupert Murdoch cabled from Australia, “would like to hear more.”

Nothing further came of that offer but it is fair to say the history of the Kenyan media would have been very different if the Australian’s bid to partner with the Aga Khan in the Nation had succeeded.


Mr Murdoch and the Aga Khan were polar opposites in their views on what the role of a newspaper should be in society. Pursuing an ideal of quality journalism, the Aga Khan turned the Nation into East Africa’s leading newspaper.

The publishing company’s shares were later sold at the Nairobi Stock Exchange while the principal stake in the Nation Media Group was acquired by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).

Mr Murdoch wanted a popular newspaper with plenty of gossip and big photos, preferably of the female variety.

Read complete story in Sunday Nation Kenya



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