Is Nation Media House Becoming a House of Pain?

Well, whether the rumor mill was true or not, what happened to the independence of media houses and their duty to protect their journalists in a bid to give them a free and fair environment to air their views?

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Nation media house is undoubtedly a house of controversies. What goes on in there for some of their top employees is like a script of a horror movie. To us who witness the injustices from the sidelines, we can only rely on the sad tales of the ex employees.

I once read the statement of one Godfrey Mwampembwa, the famous cartoonist who goes by stage name Gado, and I felt sad. At the helm of his long and successful career at Nation, it was alleged that a very powerful, political and invisible hand was to blame for his sacking at NMG. Apparently, his cartoons had ruffled the feathers of the mighty.

Well, whether the rumor mill was true or not, what happened to the independence of media houses and their duty to protect their journalists in a bid to give them a free and fair environment to air their views?

Interestingly, the fact of political interference of giant media houses in Kenya like Nation Media house came into light accidentally when a twitter user by the name of Tony Gitonga (he goes by the nametag @tonymurega) blamed the Kenyan media houses for their failure to verify and tally the votes independently. The blanket allegation sent Mutuma Mathiu, a once top executive of Nation Media Group, into a fit of rage. In a long thread of reply, Mutuma Mathiu lectured Tony on what really happened at the background. He highlighted how the government of the day undercut its advertisement budget in order to “punish” the media houses when they fell out of favour.

Nevertheless, it seems like working at NMG, someone has to internalize the lyrics to the song “gambler” by the late Kenny Rodgers.

Indeed, you’ve got to know when to run. This is because, in this media house of pain, it seems like the careers of journalists are nipped at the bud when they seems to be on top of the food chain.

Among the top journalists who have left the media house unexpectedly include Jane Ngoiri, Salim Swaleh, Kaltun Jama and lately; Mutuma Mathiu, Mark Masai and Dennis Okari. Mark Masai has hinted that indeed there is something terribly wrong with the HR at NMG. Mark seems to have figured out the exit and he has embarked on a digital content project. And that is the right direction to take because even his ex employer seems like that is the direction he is heading.

And something seems to be terribly wrong at NMG. In the year 2015, news reports indicated that Sheila Mwanyigha was sacked while she was still on air!

Losing a job is hard. It is a moment of vulnerability for everyone. You not only lose the salary; actually, salary is just the tip of this iceberg. As your job goes, along with it goes your identity and confidence. Some benefits that become so usual to the life of an employee like medical insurance covers, allowances, social connections and public trust usually disappear with the job.

For a journalist whose life is always at the limelight, their job loss is either a double tragedy or a blessing. This is because as a public figure, the journalist is more likely to feel the public pressure through sympathy calls, SMSs, social media and the cold treatment of their former colleagues. On the other hand, their next employer may be watching the developments from somewhere and save their situations.

But things are really tough for the traditional media houses all over. Apparently, the masses seem to be moving into alternative *free* content and news from outlets like blogs, youtube, twitter etc. This disruption by the contemporary digital media has disrupted the income models of the traditional media houses.

Nevertheless, NMG is unboutedly one of the best local media house that recruits and mentors the best journalists under their stable. Some of the best international journalists that have worked for the giant media house include Larry Madowo of CNN and Sophie Ikenye of BBC.

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