Moral rot in Kenyan media: NMG in good company
“It’s crazy and sad, but I’m glad something is finally happening (about NMG),” is what a top-notch journalist friend had to say the moment he heard about the reported troubles at NMG.
Both Kumekucha and Kenyapolitical had some excellent write-ups on the incident; Kumekucha went as far as linking to an alleged letter from disgruntled NMG employees regarding the matter.
My journalist friend was one of my mentors in the trade in my days as a cub reporter at my alma mater’s student newspaper.
He – alongside a few others that also included Aco – was part of an editorial team that remains legendary in the history of Kenyan student journalism: They were just great!
In those days (till a while after I graduated), we used to print our student newspaper with the NMG; it was thus not unussual for some of our lead stories to appear in the NMG’s flagship publications.
But that’s besides the point…my journalist friend, and several others in his editorial team, naturally found themselves interning at the NMG; it’s this crowd that has helped launch some of the NMG’s outstanding products over the past few years.
My first visit to Kimathi Street was on the invitation of this journalist friend and another of his colleagues (a female, also from my alma mater); they were a happy lot at the time.
The next time I buzzed Kimathi Street, both – and scores of others – had left the NMG, citing sexual harassment from some of their seniors.
It is a miracle 2 of the seniors mentioned at the time continue to hold top editorial positions at NMG, pontificating once every week (yes, they are that important) on this or the other issue in society.
The NMG is not alone in this quagmire.
When I wanted to intern, I also applied to the NMG; I passed their aptitude test with flying colours but got no reply regarding when I could begin my duties (Trainning Editor at the time, Mr. Frank Whalley – a good man by all standards, I can’t fault him – could barely hide his suprise when I suggested that I had not heard from the NMG concerning my fate).
I walked away from the NMG to nearby Standard; two female colleagues from my university who had also “failed” to satisfy the NMG accompanied me.
At the Standard, the 2 ladies still “failed” to satisfy another top editor, so they ended up at the People Daily where – desperate for reporters but cash-strapped – they were an easy take for Kenneth Matiba’s media empire.
As for me, I refused to leave the newsroom (from around 8:30 am) till I met the Group Editorial Director (at around 1:00 pm).
When he called me into his office, he asked me to define journalism, went over my media portfolio and asked me to report for work immediately.
I had – graciously – succeeded where others had so “failed.”
My stint in the mainstream media would later impress on me the fact that the moral rot in the industry is mind-boggling to say the least; and it is not just about loose zips!
A clergyman friend often says that – in his prayers – he sees the NMG building along Kimathi Street collapsing one of these fine days.
How that will happen – or is happening – is something I pondered about somewhat the moment the latest tales emerged.