Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Wambui Wamunyu

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Hesbon Owilla

Third Supervisor/Advisor

Nancy Booker


Graduate School of Media and Communications


This study sought to establish the viability of free newspapers in the Kenyan market, using the case of The People Daily. The research objectives of this study were: (i) to establish the management strategy behind The People Daily’s conversion into a free newspaper; (ii) to determine the relationship between advertising revenue and The People Daily’s viability as a news media outlet; (iii) to assess financial sustainability of The People Daily as a free newspaper; and (iv) to establish the quality control measures that The People Daily has put in place to promote quality journalism. This study was based on the Media Economics Theory and it adopted mixed method research approach and a descriptive research design that targeted 70 journalists at The People Daily newspaper. Data was collected through a survey questionnaire and six senior managers were interviewed for key information on The People Daily strategies that informed the conversion to a free newspaper. The researcher pre-tested the tools with a group of journalists from Standard Media group. Quantitative data collected was cleaned and analysed using IBM’s SPSS version 22 and presented in form of tables, pie charts and graphs. Qualitative data was transcribed, coded for patterns and emergent themes presented in narrative format to corroborate the quantitative data with the relevant quotes to buttress the emergent themes. Findings indicated that the conversion of The People Daily to a free newspaper has given it a competitive edge by boosting circulation and attracting advertisers who have been the mainstay of the newspaper’s revenue base. Further, the newspaper is generally financially sustainable and has put in place measures to produce quality content. The study also established that the conversion of The People Daily into a free newspaper was based on two key strategies: the need to create a competitive advantage in the market and remain afloat, and second, to boost the revenue that the newspaper generates. The study established that while advertising revenue makes The People Daily viable, being part of a conglomerate disadvantages the newspaper as part of its advertising revenues is channeled to other outlets, especially the conglomerate’s TV station K24. To ensure sustainability and production of quality content, the researcher recommends that a huge percentage of resources generated by the free newspaper be ploughed back into newsroom to strengthen operations and boost staff morale.