Nation Media Group (NMG), Kenya’s leading media company, is set to undergo another round of layoffs as it aims to reshape its newsroom management towards a converged operation. The announcement was made during a staff meeting at NMG’s head office in Nairobi, where top management revealed plans to offload reporters and editors to align with their new business strategy.
NMG Group Editorial Director Joe Ageyo and HR manager Jane Muiruri addressed the meeting, emphasizing the shift towards a centralized newsdesk for all stories across newspapers, TV, and radio. This approach will result in redundancies as NMG focuses on publishing and airing commissioned stories that meet their quality standards. Even regional editors will need to pitch content to the central news desk, known as the News Hub, which will be led by Allan Odhiambo for newspapers and Ben Kitili of NTV for broadcast.
As a result, correspondents who are paid per article or story may face tighter competition for their work to be published or aired. Retainers are also expected to be affected, potentially leading to downward revisions. The reduction in Nation newspaper pagination by four pages will contribute to the layoffs, with revise editors, reporters, online video producers, and magazine editors among the positions targeted for elimination.
The shift in the rationale for these layoffs is notable, as the focus has moved from a digital-first approach to convergence. NMG’s Human Resources department is offering counseling services to affected employees, recognizing the distress that such decisions can cause. Counseling will be provided through the Employee Assistance Program, with Build and Restore Counselling Services being retained to offer stress management and post-traumatic counseling.
Chief Operations Officer Monica Ndung’u is reportedly overseeing the restructuring process, aiming to optimize the company’s workforce. This is not the first time NMG has implemented staff cuts, as they faced similar challenges in July 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business.
While the atmosphere during the staff meeting was tense, with few questions asked, the new operational model does present some opportunities. NMG will be recruiting for six positions, including chief production editor (video and audio), lead coder, native content editor, audience analyst, social media analyst, and data visualizer. Employees affected by the layoffs are encouraged to apply for these positions in consultation with their respective editors.
As NMG undergoes this period of restructuring, it remains to be seen how the convergence of their newsroom and the reduction in staff will impact the quality and diversity of their media offerings.