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Ruthless Standard fires prominent writers as big purge begins

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A week after a cluster of employees voluntarily retired from Standard Group, the second and a rather ruthless phase has kicked off.

Last night, it emerged that Kenya’s oldest media house had culled out award-winning journalist Nyambega Gisesa, alongside other writers Kiundu Waweru, Joe Kiarie, Peter Orengo, Dann Okoth, Chris Musumba and cartoonist Eric Jacob Ngammau (GaMMZ). Others who will be leaving include photographers Tabitha Otwori and Andrew Kilonzi, Saturday sub-editor Nancy Akinyi and a sub on the business desk.

Contacted by Business Today, Mr Nyambega said: “Due to changes in structure and in extension of personal considerations and reasons, I am leaving the Standard in a month’s time or less.”

On Friday, more than 20 employees in editorial section received notice letters declaring them redundant in a months’ time. More than 50 people are targeted in the newspaper section as part of a company-wide restructuring to clean up the payroll by 30%. Tension is high, while morale is at its lowest, as letter fly in one at a time.

The redundancy purge has targeted mainly journalists brought in by the company’s HR Director, Mrs Pauline Kiraithe, when she moved in from Nation Media Group and members of the Kenya Union of journalists, according to someone close to the process. The reason for the sacking is indicated as ROLE REDUNDANCY.


The process is simple. You are given the letter and clearance form then summoned to meet a panel of top editors, including the HR director, for a briefing session. The panel comprises Public Editor John Bundotich, The Nairobian Managing Editor Charles Otieno, Group Corporate Affairs Director and former Managing Editor for Saturday Standard Charles Kimathi and Enoch Wambua, the Managing Editor for Sunday Standard who will now be managing the two weekend editions after they were merged as part of the cost cutting measures.

The panelists then confirm to the victim that he or she has indeed been earmarked for sacking under the ongoing restructuring and advises them to appeal against the decision if they feel they don’t deserve it. “When you get in you are given the obvious explanations, then asked to sign the letter,” one of the journalists given notice said.

Ironically, Kipkoech Tanui, the Group Managing Editor (print) is missing in the process, bringing to doubts if indeed he supports the bloody firing of his lieutenants. Mr Tanui has not been in good terms with the management since the sacking of his close ally, the Editorial Director Chaacha Mwita last year.

A quick analysis shows the pruning of staff is anchored on the regrouping of the “old Standard” employees and the departure of those poached, mainly from the Nation Media Group and Radio Africa’s Star newspaper. The only expected survivors are Enock Wambua, an ally of the CEO Sam Shollei (due to the warm relationship Wambua enjoys with a State House operative).

The company has offered to compensate those who are laid off and is providing counseling and financial advice. According to the letter, counselors have been hired for that purpose.



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