June 28th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Star newspaper to cut back on news, opinion in new structure

"The main source of our problems has been declining sales, and the management has decided that to counteract this they need less political coverage and more gossip and entertainment," said a journalist who was among those retrenched.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 07 Feb 2017 14:54 EAT

Star CEO Patrick Quarcoo.

The Radio Africa Group, publishers of the Star newspaper, finally began its painful retrenchment programme today, announcing the axing of veteran journalists such as opinion page editor Wycliffe Muga and senior reporters Dominic Wabala, Agatha Ngotho, Elly Gitau, Ibrahim Oruko, Peter Ngetich, Henry Wanyama, Crispinus Wekesa and David Mwere.

Features editor Karen Mbugua, sports editor Sulubu Tuva and sub editor Sam Kiplagat were also axed, alongside Khalsa Lakhvir, the head of creative design who was hired last year during the paper's failed relaunch, and a few managers in charge of sales and production from the radio side of corporation.

With the changes, the paper has now confirmed reports that have filtered from its journalists that it was planning to abolish its weekend opinion pages and cut back on news and opinion pages on weekdays. Mr Muga and Mr Oruko were on the opinion desk, which now has only one staffer, Wanjiru Kinoti, who will deal mainly with outsourced, non-monetised opinion articles.

According to one reporter, the paper's new strategy is to become an entertainment and business publication. "The main source of our problems has been declining sales, and the management has decided that to counteract this they need less political coverage and more gossip and entertainment," said a journalist who was among those retrenched, adding, "It might not serve the role of the media as we know it but that business model rakes in huge profits for the company's radio stations".

Another reporter who was among the retrenched lot indicated that the paper's downsizing could be the first step towards ceasing print publication altogether. The reporter said that the management was waiting to see the outcome of the August 8 general elections to decide the future of the newspaper. This website could not verify that claim.

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