In March 2013, Mediamax went on a poaching spree to revamp its dwindling brand K24 after having struggled to gain audiences since its launch on February 4, 2008.
Despite being the first Kenyan television station to stream live on the internet, the brand has struggled to grow its numbers by having loyal followers.
Raid that Almost Crippled Citizen
When it went in for the kill in the election year that saw Uhuru Kenyatta become Kenya’s fourth president, K24 went for the jugular. It raided Citizen TV, not just for screen talent but also most of the technical team, hoping that the established personalities would be able to draw viewers to the station.
Noteworthy though is that the Kenyatta family-owned Mediamax then was cavorting the media landscape for talent and it first took in a majority from Citizen.
Journalists who have left the Maalim Road address include Franklin Wambugu, Belinda Obura, Chris Thairu, Jimmi Gathu, Tom Mboya, TerryAnne Chebet, Duncan Khaemba, Job Mwaura, Purity Mwambia and Isabella Kituri.
Feeling the Heat
In August 2013, the MediaMax chopping board saw over 70 employees from across the platforms sacked.
Anne Ngugi, Nyatichi Nyasani, Rashid Ronald, Zawadi Mudibo, Joyce Mkawasi, Caleb Karuga, and Yassin Juma were among the most notable and experienced journalists who were sent packing.
Some of these were poached from competing stations during K24’s relaunch. The promise of an attractive pay package was too enticing to let go. In this firing, Anne Ngugi and her colleague Chemtai Goin were pregnant and they were let go.
Nyatichi Nyasani was fired under unclear circumstances.
Tom Mboya and Belinda Obura who had been poached from Citizen survived this round of mass sacking but they would not be so lucky when the second round came.
After being let go by K24, Mboya turned to the bottle and it almost wrecked his life.
In an interview with the Standard in April this year, he said: “True, alcohol was a part of my journey. It almost destroyed me. I have been sober for 10 years now though.”
Mboya was CNN’s Journalist of the Year in 2012 and a year later was gifted the Global Leaders Award in recognition of his work. Today he mentors people.
Anne Ngugi and Chemutai Goin landed on their feet after securing jobs at the BBC and Citizen TV respectively.
While some of the K24 casualties were able to come back, others have gone off the screen altogether.
Belinda Obura is a consultant, Zawadi Mudibo is in PR and Caleb Karuga is a celebrated farmer.
Is Mediamax a Career Killer?
Most of these people who are sacked by the company are at the prime of their careers but it seems that Mediamax is where journalist careers go to die.
While many other companies are also firing people, the media industry seems to be having it easy letting go employees without much thought- seemingly.
As it is, the mass firing at K24 in such quick succession means that anyone looking to work there should have a contingency plan if they are to have a fall back on plan.
Would anyone be willing to work at K24 after these events?
Only time will tell.
Kenya is my home and its development and growth my motivation.
I have a pen and a story to tell about why #KenyaIsMagical.
Do you have a tip?
We can showcase Kenya together since there is no place like home.
Reach me at [email protected]