Senior journalists at Nation Media Group (NMG), one of Kenya’s largest legacy media houses, have been sacked in the latest bloodletting that has befallen the media industry.
The redundancies that were announced on Wednesday have left the NMG newsroom shaken as many more veteran journalists have suddenly been left with no source of income.
The journalists were given their redundancy letters yesterday following a memo by Group CEO Stephen Gitagama, who said the move was necessary in NMG’s efforts to digitize.
Among big names let go by the Aga Khan-linked firm include Kenya Editors Guild President Churchill Otieno, who was the Nation Head of News and Managing Editor and headed digital.
Sources say he has been replaced in the NMG digital transformation endeavour by Oliver Mathenge, who returned to Nation Center months back from The Star to head NTV digital.
Other also kicked to the unemployment corner are Guchu Ndungu, who was until this Wednesday the Editor, Saturday Nation and Wayua Muli who was Editor, Society & Lifestyle.
More in the redundancy list are Taifa Leo Managing Editor Peter Ngare, Nation senior investigative reporter Vincent Achuka and Nation reporter Sylas Apollo among others.
Sources say that Gitagama could also pave way for current Chief Operating Officer (COO) Monicah Waceke Ndung'u, who was previously the Head of Broadcasting at NTV.
Insiders have termed the ongoing changes at NMG as a “hostile takeover of the Nation newsroom by the NTV cartel” and ridding the company of scribes perceived to have been aligned to the previous President Uhuru Kenyatta regime and the Azimio La Umoja brigade.
Among victims of the media ritual is the former Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mutuma Mathiu, who was demoted to Group Consulting Editor (CE) as a smooth and less embarrassing exit.
Mathiu is said to have been hobnobbing with the Uhuru administration, especially former Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, and reportedly sanctioned “favourable” stories and headlines.
NMG last month announced it would send a number of employees home as it grapples with harsh economic times coupled with inability to effectively leverage the digital tsunami that is choking legacy media houses that have refused to adapt to the fast-changing landscape.
In a tense staff meeting three weeks ago, NMG announced its newspaper division would take the biggest hit as it shifts its business to leverage digital media growth going into 2023.
This comes amid reports that staff at the Standard Group Limited have gone for two months without salaries amid tough economic times and rumours of a plan to sell off the media house that also operates the KTN and KTN News TV stations and is owned by the Moi family.