After two or so months of dithering, the Standard Group media company has kicked off its restructuring exercise, with a number of senior journalists and other management staff expected to be pushed out. Among the biggest victims is the management staff segment, non-journalists employees – which has been clinically trimmed.
On the first day of its restructuring on 17th January 2023, a number of notable journalists were picked for redundancy.
The retrenchment, which began on Monday and could go on for the rest of this week, targets editors from both TV and the newspaper divisions. Notable journalists who have been handed exit letters include KTN editor Odeo Sirari, the veteran radio journalist who was hired by KTN in 2018 as an editor.
Before joining KTN, Odeo had worked for BBC for eight years as a multimedia journalist and radio presenter for its Kiswahili programmes based at the Nairobi bureau. He also worked for Milele FM as the assistant news editor and Radio Jambo as Swahili news editor.
From the newspaper division those who have been laid off include Quality Assurance editors Geoffrey Ombogo and Nicholas Asego.
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The lay-offs are hoped to ease the company’s financial woes. Standard has been struggling to pay its journalists over the past one year. A number of journalists have quit over the past few years, citing the company’s financial uncertainty. Some like Dominic Omondi and Patrick Alushula from the business desk have been poached by the Business Daily.
Taking the option to quit rather than being fired, Nairobian newspaper founding editor Ted Malanda handed in his resignation letter las week. “Gang, my journey at SG has ended,” he said in a message to colleagues. “I came to the newsroom believing I would only stay for a year, maybe two, and yet it’s been an incredible 11 years.”
Quality Assurance editor and prolific columnist Clay Muganda and health editor Kamau Mutunga, as well as KTN’s Dau La Elimu show host Frank Otieno also quit ahead of the restructuring.
It is understood that since September last year employees at Standard Group have been receiving salaries in installments. The company had promised to clear all the arrears in December but only managed to pay 80% the October salary. Last week, the media house reached a temporary deal with the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) to settle salaries by 23rd January 2023 to avert a strike.
Media analysts say a solution to the financial problems at Standard should go beyond layoffs and address systemic revenues leaks as well as a bold decision to close down non-profitable businesses.