Standard Media Group has wiped out almost its entire technical staff on the first day of its restructuring exercise as a number of notable journalists were told that their services were no longer needed.
Technical staff are non journalists who help to keep a media house running from day to day. These includes secretaries, receptionists, office messengers, those who cook tea etc.
Apart from them, the retrenchment exercise which began today and could go on for the next two days also targeted editors from both TV and the newspaper divisions.
The most notable of those who have been told to pick their retrenchment letters today is KTN editor Odeo Sirari.
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The veteran radio journalist turned TV editor was hired by KTN in 2018 as an editor to fill in the gaps left by the exit of former managing editor Joe Ageyo to rival Citizen TV.
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 includes Quality Assurance editors Geofrey Ombogo and Nicholas Asego.
Also joining the list of those told to go home is the editor in charge of Op-eds Kinuthia Njoroge
Sources at the media house have told sauce.co.ke that the exercise is being done progressively and it could take a few days. We will provide new names as they become available.
The lay offs come at a time the company is struggling to pay its journalists. A number of journalists have already quit citing frustrations of working without pay. The lucky ones from the business desk like Dominic Omondi and Patrick Alushula have been poached by the Business Daily.
Just last week the Nairobian founding editor Ted Malanda handed in his resignation letter. He was joined by one of Quality Assurance editors and prolific columnist Clay Muganda and health editor Kamau Mutunga. KTN’s Dau La Elimu show host Frank Otieno also quit over the weekend.
The last time employees at Kenya’s oldest media house were paid a full salary was September last year. The company had promised to clear all the arrears in December but only managed to pay 80 percent of the October salary.
Last week the media house bought itself some time after it promised the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) that it will pay its staff by January 23 in order to avert industrial action which would grind operations at the company to a halt.