Negotiations are currently ongoing to have him accept the new role and save Nation the reputational risk it is facing in pushing out key talent at such a critical time.

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ation Media Group (NMG) employees are crossing their fingers as the company puts final touches to a lay-off plan set to be executed in the next few weeks. Kenya’s leading media house is seeking to trim its payroll, once again, to cut operational costs and boost earnings.

Inside sources at Nation Centre, the group’s nerve centre, indicate that word about the impending retrenchment started filtering in on Monday, rattling the newsroom. Tension is evidently high among editorial managers and other editors as strong hints emerge of the lay-off targeting senior journalists attached to the newspaper section.

It’s also likely that NTV could be affected, with General Manager Linus Kaikai in the spotlight after State House raised complaints about the somewhat independent coverage of the campaigns and elections last year.

The restructuring comes exactly a year since NMG made major changes in its editorial department and sacked some journalists. It also altered its editorial structure to accommodate a reshuffle of top editors that saw Eric Obino, reported to have initially been let go, moved from position of Sunday Nation managing editor to production manager for the print division. Also, Tim Wanyonyi was moved to the newsdesk and his post on Saturday Nation taken over by Nga’ang’a Mbugua.

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In the planned lay-off, editors without clearly defined job descriptions and constituencies are likely to be pushed out or redeployed. Surprisingly, however, the already stretched subs desk could lose some hands, according to sources.

The number of those to be sacked is not clear yet, but given the thinning numbers of journalists in the NMG newsroom, it will be few pickings from different desks and possibly regional bureaus. The group’s financial publication, Business Daily, lost four writers at ago and has so far only replaced one.

The restructuring closely follows the resignation of NMG CEO Joe Muganda, who is serving his notice period until end of January, after not-so-great performance in terms of revenues. Nation Media Group reported a Ksh500 million drop in profitability for 2016, reflecting shifting trends that depressed revenues for traditional media houses. This piled pressure on the CEO, who resorted to restructuring to cut operational costs. This paid off, with the group posting a 2.3 per cent growth in half-year profit before tax to Ksh1.17 billion as at June 2017.

Lay-offs, which are now an annual affair, have become the easier way out for media houses struggling to stay afloat as market dynamics are disrupted by new media consumption trends and government policy. Recently, the Standard Group laid off employees, among them 9 journalists, as part of its recovery strategy.

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