Nation Media Group has collapsed the walls between its departments in a major restructuring exercise in a bid to turn around its fortunes after years of dwindling revenue courtesy of digital disruption.
The restructuring exercise done today morning has been occasioned by advice from FT Strategies, the consulting arm of the Financial Times. The consultants from London have been camping at Kimathi Street from last year in September figuring out how the newsroom’s resources can be re-aligned in order to create new revenue streams so as to turn around the company whose fortunes have been tanking.
The changes made today have shown that the Nation will today going forward reduce its reliance on its newspaper division which has been its bread and butter since 1961 in order to survive the changing times.
At the core of the restructuring exercise is an ambitious attempt to turn the Nation into a digital-first media house through a converged newsroom model. This will be the third time NMG is restructuring itself in a decade. The last two restructuring exercises in 2016 and 2020 turned out to be disasters.
In the new changes, Nation has merged its print and broadcast operations into one. Its weekend newspapers have also been demoted of their special status and turned into departments under one giant NMG editorial machine.
The same applies to the Business Daily, Taifa Leo and the East African which will no longer have their own managing editors. In this regard, NTV too will no longer run its editorial operations as a separate entity.
Pamela Sitoni who was the Executive Editor, Daily Nation will now be the Group Managing Editor for all the brands under the Nation Media Group. She will be working in conjunction with the new Managing Editor of Audience engagement, Oliver Mathenge.
Oliver will also be in charge of deciding which Nation content will be put behind a paywall. An attempt to put up a paywall behind premium content on Nation.Africa in 2020 failed after the number of website visitors dropped significantly. This forced the media house to drop the idea in the run-up to last year’s elections.
This time however, the responsibility of creating premium content has been handed to Benard Mwinzi who was previously the Managing Editor Daily Nation.
Other key appointments include news anchor James Smart who has been made the new Managing Editor News Room Production and former Weekends Managing Editor who will be the new ME Planning and News Desk.
It is expected that Group Editorial Director Joe Ageyo will make other changes in the coming days as the company tries to make a leaner and more efficient newsroom.
What has not been addressed however is whether the current newsroom in its present form has the capacity and talent required to produce monetizable content. Save for the Weekly Review whose content is mostly produced by veteran journalists Macharia Gaitho and Jaindi Kisero, the rest of the content is mostly breaking and the news of the day.
NMG like all media houses has been hemorrhaging talent for the last decade in an effort to stay afloat. It has also not invested enough in talent development and mentorship.
Additionally, the current members of staff are forced to work on almost everything leaving very little time for them to develop serious content which will obviously take time to develop. This scenario is not just prevalent at the Daily Nation but also at NTV where some reporters are almost off duty on a permanent basis while the few who are available are made to work on almost everything.