Radio Africa Group has rehired its former business reporter to head The Star business desk, which has been facing a crisis since it was hit by a mass exit of staff.
The exodus left the newspaper without business reporters – and an editor – starving not just the print edition but also the digital and broadcast platforms of content.
After hiring two new reporters this month, the company has brought back Peter Kiragu, who left in February 2014. Mr Kiragu will take over in August from Mercy Gakii, who has been holding brief. He is expected to help in rebuilding the desk and stimulating morale to ensure optimal performance. He has been named as Head of Biashara Desk for the media group.
Kiragu has been working for The Standard as a writer on the supplements desk, where he landed after quitting The Star.
His exit marked the beginning of the end of a formidable team that had been assembled by Francis Openda, who was promoted and moved to news desk.
Later, in October last year, business editor Lola Okulo left to join betting company, SportPesa. Even before the company came to terms with her exit, two key reporters resigned closely followed by acting business editor Constant Munda, who decamped to Business Daily.
Munda’s exit was the last nail in the coffin. Many in media had begun to imagine Radio Africa was out to do away with the business desk, but the management moved to counter the setback by seeking out new talent. So far two reporters have been hired – Abel Muhatia and Victor Amadala from the blogosphere.
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Kiragu’s job is clearly cut out. It not easy building a new team in business journalism where supply of talent is in short supply, with PR agencies and corporates snapping up some of the best business journalists.
It will help Kiragu if he is supported by the company in terms of capacity building and better remuneration that will shield the team from checking greener pastures across the road.
The management needs to also reassure the new comers that The Star newspaper, which is supposed to be the flagship of the group’s empire, is stable and will not meet untimely closure as had been rumoured.
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