TBY talks to Igor Kindop, Editor-in-Chief at Kapital, on the evolution of the press, the development of Kapital, and the future of the media sector online.
TBY How has the Kazakhstani press evolved over the last 20 years?
IGOR KINDOP After Kazakhstan gained independence, the domestic media sector has become freer. We can say that those were the most revolutionary years for Kazakhstani journalism. Many media organs were united in holding companies, creating a competitive market environment with a lessened role for the state. Furthermore, many media outlets have received long-awaited freedom. There were opposition newspapers, television, and radio stations. The sector began to generate income through marketing and advertising. This period was critical for the country. Each media outlet needed to find its niche, and to gather feedback from consumers, readers, viewers, and listeners. If we talk only about the periodical press, we can safely say that this period saw the birth of many successful magazines and newspapers.
In 2007 came the first wave of the crisis, which was reflected across the media industry. Many channels, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations sadly closed. It was tough to get advertising as potential advertisers were facing financial difficulties. Many media holdings then went through downsizing. The crisis also affected our company. At that time, we abandoned the English-language version of The Kazakhstan Monitor, a glossy magazine, because production costs were too high. This period was a good lesson for many media outlets as it pushed us to expand our online offerings, and become less costly and more accessible. We have also started to actively develop an online version Kapital, at www.kapital.kz. It is still in its infant stages, but the staff updates economic and financial news daily.
How has Kapital grown as a national newspaper since its establishment?
Kapital was first published in April 2005, with a strong team of not only journalists, but also designers. There are a lot of competitors in the business media market, hence we needed to find and conquer our niche. We had to become the only weekly newspaper read by VIPs and managers. That is, there was a need to do something unique, interesting, and credible for the readers. In that regard, I think we succeeded. This is our seventh year in the market, and even if we are not the first, we are counted among the top three weekly business newspapers. To highlight our success, it is sometimes not possible to find Kapital on the newsstand due to strong demand. The format of the newspaper, like its trademark green color, marks us out. Prior to us, no publication had used green as a major print color, which really makes us stand out. Another distinctive feature is the cartoons we use on our front page—sometimes a cartoon can replace words and it works just fine.
What is Kapital’s mission in the domestic media?
Over the years we have found our main value is the trust of our readers and popularity. Our readers trust us, they build a business with us and make calls on the stock exchange. I think this really is the result of our work. We receive many letters of appreciation and training invitations. It seems to me—most importantly—they are all reflections of our readers’ trust.
How would you describe your experience as the Editor-in-Chief of Kapital? What is your strategy to carry your newspaper forward with respect to the quality and scope of the news services you provide?
Currently we are faced with a unique situation. The media sector, as I have said, is in a difficult situation. However, as the Chinese proverb goes, crises present not only challenges, but also opportunities. Today, the media is presented with great opportunities, because in general the crisis has come and gone. However, the future is impossible without good rebirth, and tomorrow it will be very difficult to do business under the old standards. Today, the market begins to grow, not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. And to stay stagnant is just not possible. If we talk about quality, the days when people learned the news from newspapers are long gone. Now news is much easier to learn from the internet and news agencies. Newspapers in the world today must sell an interesting story. It should sell not only facts, but also disclose trends to the reader. Only then can we be helpful to our readers, and in this we see our future.
What changes have you observed in Kazakhstani readers’ interests and their means of access to information over the past years?
In years past, Kazakhstan had high levels of technophobia. Recently, the Ministry of Communications and Information in cooperation with a major national internet provider began to actively connect the most remote corners of the country to the internet. The future is online. All members of the mainstream media should understand how the market will evolve. The essence of journalism is to give readers accurate information as quickly as possible, or to provide readers with interesting stories.
What is your outlook for the media industry in 2011 and beyond?
All media outlets are directly dependent on the advertising activities of industrial and service enterprises. If the global economy avoids catastrophic upheavals, the media market in this state will continue to successfully develop. Of course, now the media is gradually going online, and this trend will certainly continue.
© The Business Year