June 28th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Journalists at Nation, Standard uncertain of future as newspaper job cuts loom

According to insiders familiar with the developments, two top editors at the Standard have approached a number of reporters at the Nation and smaller media houses with offers for senior reporting roles.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSaturday, 12 Nov 2016 18:14 EAT

The Standard Group logo.

The Nation Media Group and the Standard Group, the two leading media houses in Kenya, are expected to send dozens of newspaper journalists home in a new restructuring process as they continue to adapt to changing market dynamics. While the Nation management has prepared its staffers through carefully delivered rumours in the newsroom, the Standard Group is going through its programme in a secretive manner, according to multiple sources in the two companies.

The Standard Group is seeking to lay off non-performing staff while at the same time scouting for experienced reporters to augment its coverage of the upcoming general elections. According to insiders familiar with the developments, two top editors at the Standard have approached a number of reporters at the Nation and smaller media houses with offers for senior reporting jobs. Three journalists who were approached by the editors, and who spoke to the Kenya Free Press on condition of anonymity, said they had declined the offers, fearing the company would 'use' them during the election and lay them off at a later date.

When the editors met the journalists, they emphasised that the current changes at the Standard will not involve further job losses, explaining that the paper had offloaded journalists enough and was operating at optimum levels. However, none of the targeted reporters was convinced. One informed the editors that the restructuring undertaken in the second half of 2015 had removed some distinguished writers from the group, so he couldn't be sure that his own new job would be safe after the elections.

So high is the anxiety at the two leading houses over the impending job cuts that, at the Nation, journalists could hardly settle on their desks on Thursday and Friday after the company's plans were leaked to an external website. According to insiders at Nation Centre, Kenya's largest media house will send home up to 30 journalists home before the end of the year, the key targets being old hands in the profession who hold senior positions and specialised writers. The company is progressively cutting staff costs through a programme that targets high earners and is relying increasingly on contract writers. Some of the paper's editorial functions such as photography are dependent on thread-bare staff base.

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