Nation Media Group (NMG) has denied suppressing the independence of columnists writing for its publications eight of whom resigned on Tuesday morning.
In a statement, NMG said it has always respected their views and did not tamper with their positions except to correct basic errors.
While they announced they had discontinued the services with immediate effect, the independent columnists said the media house has lost editorial independence to the State and had resorted to censorship not just of its journalists but columnists as well.
They cited the discontinuation of NASA strategist David Ndii’s column in the Saturday Nation without reference to him and the sackings of Special Projects and Investigations Managing Editor Dennis Galava and NTV General Manager Linus Kaikai as examples of increasing intolerance to independent voices at Nation Centre.
“We refuse to continue to clothe the loss of editorial independence and freedom at the NMG with respectability. Thankfully, public opinion is no longer in the sole grip of those who buy ink by the barrel. We are encouraged by the emergence of more egalitarian models for accessing and sharing information and will not be powerless witnesses to the silencing even of one voice, however disagreeable those in power find it,” they said at a joint press conference in Nairobi.
However, NMG Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Clifford Machoka said the media house was founded more than half a century ago on the bedrock of independent voices, diversity and freedom of expression and has developed through a process of public participation and publicly published its editorial policy to guide its conduct and journalism.
“We believe that the principles of independence, fairness and balance, as espoused in our editorial policy are key to promoting the democratic space whilst being mindful of the impact that information in the public space plays in shaping opinions,” said Machoka.
Those who resigned were George Kegoro, the executive director of the Kenya Human rights Commission who writes a column for the Sunday Nation; Muthoni Wanyeki, the director of Open Society Foundation and columnist in Saturday Nation and The East African; Father Gabriel Dolan, Catholic mission Priest and Saturday Nation columnist; Rasna Warah, author and Daily Nation columnist and Maina Kiai, co-director InformAction and columnist Sunday Nation.
Others were Gabrielle Lynch, professor of comparative politics at University of Warwick and Saturday Nation columnist; Nick Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham and Sunday Nation columnist; and Kwamchetsi Makokha, programme advisor at Justice for Journalists and columnist for Daily and Saturday Nation.
Here is the NMG statement in full: