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Pamela Sittoni: Soft-Spoken Journalist Who Keeps Shattering Glass Ceilings

She is celebrated as the first woman in Kenya to hold the position of Managing Editor of a daily newspaper

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For Pamela Sittoni, journalism just flows. If you woke her up in the middle of the night, she would easily write a news story without míssing the so-called five W’s and a H, where W represents What, Who, When, Where, Why, and H stands for How.

Incidentally, her career life in journalism, one of Kenya’s prestigious professions, has been flowing – though against many odds including gender stereotyping. From a reporter at Daily Nation, Pamela has risen through the newsroom ranks and, now as executive editor of the same newspaper, she occupies the second highest editorial position at Nation Media Group (NMG).  

It’s a history of sorts as she is the first – and perhaps so far only – woman to hold this position at Daily Nation. 

“I started writing feature articles for a national newspaper while I was in my second year at university and never looked back,” Pamela says in an interview published on Citizen Digital in July 2021. “In 1993, soon after completing my post-graduate studies in journalism, I joined Nation Media Group as a reporter. It’s been a long and tortuous journey that has seen me rise in the profession.” 

At the time of the interview, in July 2021, Pamela Sittoni was Executive Editor at Nation Media Group and Managing Editor of the Daily Nation. Early November 2022, she was reappointed the executive editor of Daily Nation, putting her second in line after the editorial director/editor-in-chief.

Pamela worked for barely a year as a reporter before she became a Sub-Editor. She was later promoted to Assistant Deputy Chief Sub-Editor, then Deputy Chief Sub-Editor and, later, Chief Sub-Editor. In 2003, she took a big leap of faith and career and left Nation Media Group to take up the position of Deputy Managing Editor at the Standard Group.

This paid off as she was later appointed Managing Editor of the Standard in 2005. “Although I was celebrated as the first woman in Kenya to hold the position of Managing Editor of a daily newspaper, the opportunity came with challenges. The culture and management style in the two media houses were starkly different. I just could not survive. I also started to struggle with my purpose and to question my work’s impact.”

In 2006, Pamela quit media to join UNICEF, where she worked as a Communication Specialist for six years before rejoining journalism in 2012, as Managing Editor of the East African, the weekly newspaper published by Nation Media Group. The fact that NMG would rehire her says a lot about her talent and work ethic. It’s not everyday that someone is thrown an offer by a former employer. 

“At the time, it felt like the pinnacle of my career,” she says. “The East African is a niche newspaper that speaks to policymakers, business leaders, academics, professionals and political leaders across the region.” 

“I must always be on my guard and careful to make the right judgement call on what to publish.”

To be appointed Managing Editor of such a premium publication was a real honour, Pamela says. “Whenever I introduced myself as the editor of The East African, people would undoubtedly throw a compliment my way. I was pretty humbled when President Paul Kagame told me during an interview that he might fail to read other newspapers but would not miss to read The East African,” she adds.

Pamela has been editor of the Daily Nation since January 2019. Editing the Daily Nation demands a lot more because of the special place of the newspaper in Kenya: it has maintained a reputation as an independent publication. “I must, therefore, only make it better,” she says. “I must always be on my guard and careful to make the right judgement call on what to publish. Thankfully, I work with a great team, and we have a robust editorial policy to guide every decision.”

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Pamela has won awards such as the Women in News Editorial Leadership Awards and recognitions like being named the 2017 Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa and a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network Initiative. “Awards are an affirmation of one’s efforts. The award tells you that you’re doing something right and that your efforts have been noticed,” she says.

On shattering the glass ceiling, she has a life lesson for other women aspiring for success. “See the professional space as gender-blind,” she says. “It is not as easy as it sounds because women tend to wear the gender badge all the time. I’m always aware that the people around me see a woman first, and I surprise them by proving that my work has nothing to do with gender.”


This story of Power Woman Pamela Sittoni, a trailblazer in Kenya’s media industry, is proudly brought to you by  Black & White blended scotch whiskey from EABL.

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KALU MENGOhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kalu Mengo is a Senior Reporter With Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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