June 25th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Citizen fires its best journalists, cementing media's race to the 'bottom line'

While Ms Omolo and Mr Agao were probably ripe for retirement, the media house has also axed many who were at their prime. Chebet and Ng'arua had shown tremendous skill in news presentation.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 27 Oct 2016 18:55 EAT

Citizen TV logo

When the Royal Media Services released a public statement yesterday, Wednesday 26th, stating that it would restructure its personnel establishment, not many Kenyans could imagine that the most renowned journalists in the conglomerate were facing the axe. But as names of the victims of the restructuring come out, the picture that emerges is of a media group that was keen to rid itself of some of its highest-paid staffers as a way of cutting costs.

The cost-cutting measure also comes with a great deal of skill-cutting, and from the look of things Kenyans should prepare for a different style of news reporting from the Royal Media stations, with further erosion of the low standards TV viewers have been treated to across the networks.

The RMS statement yesterday described the changing media landscape, before the clincher came. "...The company is left with no choice but to reorganise its operations. This includes rationalisation of various departments. Unfortunately and regrettably, the action will result in the reduction of our workforce through job redundancies. The management realises that this exercise will be very difficult for the affected members of staff and their families.”

Well, the changes may be difficult for the channel's watchers and listeners as well. Among those fired, according to a list circulating on social media, include news anchors Terryanne Chebet and Kirigo Ng'arua, news editor Mercy Oburu, head of camera John Marete and veteran broadcasters Elizabeth Omolo and Agao Patrobas.

While the latter two were probably ripe for retirement, the media house has also axed many who were at their prime. Chebet and Ng'arua had shown tremendous skill in news presentation. Many of the of the new faces on Citizen TV, like across the networks, have little grasp of the issues.

The trend is becoming clear - of leading media houses firing their highest-paid journalists in order to cut costs. The Nation Media Group last year retired senior newspaper editors like Macharia Gaitho and Jaindi Kisero, but it still won't let go of their skills, and has retained them as columnists, or, in Mr Gaitho's case, a regular analyst with little distinction from a staff member. The Standard Group fired even more staff members in 2015 in another cost-driven restructuring.

This is the list of those fired from Citizen, according to information shared on the Facebook wall of a former reporter there.

1. Terryanne Chebet – News Anchor
2. Kirigo Ng’arua – News Anchor
3. Jemima Mungai – Editor
4. Mercy Oburu – Editor
5. Abdi Osman -Editor
6. Mathangani Mwenda – Editor
7. Shisia Wasilwa – Editor Citizen TV
8. Victor Kenani – Citizen TV reporter
9. Anunda Sakwa – Radio Presenter
10. Elizabeth Omolo – Radio Presenter
11. John Marete – Head of Camera
12.Beatrice Njoki – Camera
13. Brian Okutoyi – Creative
14. Philip Muruttu – Radio Reporter
15. Nasteha Mohammed – Radio Reporter
16. Young – Editor Radio department
17. Moses Kuria – Camera
18. Beatrice Kariuki – Camera
19. Dominic Njiru – Camera
20. Anthony Kamau – Camera
21. Shelmith Wanjiru – Transmission
22. Bosco Baya – Transmission
23. Anthony Mugambi – Transmission
24. Cyrus Njiru – Transmission
25. Alex Makarau
26. Agao Patrobas
27. Crispin Njogu
28. Gladys Kigo
29. Paul Ngandu
30. Emily BV
31. Leah Ngari
32. Gichuru Makena

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