Earlier this month, promising reporter Elphas Lagat became the latest journalist to ditch KTN News for Citizen TV following in the footsteps of human interest reporter Dorcas Wangira and BBC health reporter Mercy Kandie.
Lagat was stationed in Baringo, a region where banditry is rampant, for him that was good news because it meant that he could do stories that would find their way into the news order, he was also Rift Valley’s senior correspondent, a position held by Kandie a few years back.
One of his most well thought out stories was Guns of Misery a documentary detailing how communities in the region have resulted into war due to adequacy of water and pasture. Citizen TV must have experienced its eureka moment! after the documentary aired and felt the need to have him in their books.
KTN News’ idea to assign talented reporters to the counties is brilliant but the formula is working against them, the correspondents use the opportunity to horn their skills before the deep pocketed Citizen TV spots them and snatches them from the hapless Standard Group which cannot fashion a way of retaining its best talent.
But there was the exception during the Kenya Media Transfer Window when Standard Group broke the bank to retain talented journalist Sharon Momanyi who was Citizen TV bound. She has since been promoted to features editor.
The decisions to let the journalists leave always come at a price, they proceed to the Communications Centre on Dennis Pritt Road and become even better journalists, they do good stories which attract the audiences . From the food chain, Citizen TV becomes the winner, they get the best talent to work for them who in turn guarantee them ratings and as a result they swim in advertising revenue.
Since Citizen TV walked into the commercial broadcast picture, KTN has played catch up to the SK Macharia owned TV station. In the portrait, the former continues to be the subject that attracts everyone’s attention despite the frame being big enough for everyone to have a look at.
So the big question remains why KTN is not able to stop the talent hemorrhage?
Business Today can authoritatively report that when Citizen TV or global media houses come calling, no reporter can resist the allure of a substantively better pay package and working alongside some of the country’s finest journalists. The high turnover of journalists at KTN is attributable to one reason, poor pay.
Over the years, KTN has bled Kandie, BBC’s Sylvia Chebet, K24’s Ann Kiguta, Swaleh Mdoe, Lilian Muli, Sam Ogina, Saida Swaleh to Citizen TV and more recently Betty Kyalo to K24 and others to global media houses including Edith Kimani to German broadcaster DW, BBC’s Bonnie Tunya to CGTN, Ramah Nyang to CGTN and Ferdinand Omondi to BBC.
A journalist is defined by their stories/ presentation but at the end of the day, they cant resist the big brother’s overtures when he approaches them.