Editor’s Note: Our reporter Getty Soila delves into the sacking of the Nation Media correspondent Ndung’u Gachane over ‘failure to cover CS Interior Fred Matiang’i in Murang’a.
Ndung’u Gachane, a Murang’a based journalist received a call from his superiors at ‘Twin Towers’ along Kimathi Street early this week asking him to avail at the Nation Media Group Headquarters.
When he got to the office on Tuesday, March 10, he was handed a letter which he said the company had terminated his contract as a correspondent.
A source who spoke to Gotta. news on condition of anonymity said although the company gave no reasons, there are compelling grounds the journalist was sacked for failing to cover a function that Internal Security CS Fred Matiang’i attended in Murang’a.
” The whole idea was that the reporter was supposed to write a story that Matiang’i had been endorsed for president in Murang’a, a county which has displayed its support for Deputy President William Ruto,” said our source.
Investigation by Gotta.news shows Gachane had been assigned another function in Murang’a when Matiang’i toured the area on Friday, February 28.
What’s more, the Interior CS was endorsed by Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyonka and businessman Peter Munga. Not a political leader from the Mt Kenya region endorsed the CS.
” The story would have made sense if a political leader from the Mt Kenya region had endorsed Matiang’i but that did not happen, “our source added.
Due to pressure from his seniors in Nairobi, Gachane did a story on Matiang’i downplaying leaders call for him to run for the presidency that was published on March 1.
His seniors accused him of many things among them not taking attractive photos of the CS. They also claimed he had been bribed by DP Ruto not to cover the CS.
Gachane also received calls from staff in Matiang’i’s office asking him why he never reported the CS had been endorsed for president.
What’s more, the journalist is known to be hardworking and a senior colleague told Gotta.news there has not been any complaint against Gachane in the three years he has worked for the media house.
The incident has thrown independent-minded reporters into a panic with fear they could suffer the same fate if they did not tore the line.
” You see if the management’s point was to scare journalists, then the recent incident has achieved it. Now, journalists will be confidently-scared of repercussions of failing to file ‘pro-system stories’,” said an editor from the media house who did not wish to be named.
Nation Media Group which was founded in 1959 and owned by Agha Khan is known to cast their lot with governments in power.
Editors and reporters who go against the grain by trying to exercise independence have always found themselves on the receiving end of the management.
Former Managing Editor Joe Kadhi has time and again told of how he was thrown under the bus after running a story about the Saba Saba (July 7, 1990), when police clashed with Kenyans who were calling for multi-partyism.
It was obvious The Standard, and Kenya Times were not going to cover the story, being owned by Moi family and State, respectively.
Prior, Kadhi had received a call from the late President Moi Daniel Moi asking him not to run the story. However, Kadhi keeping to the terms of his contract, one of which was to “never miss any big story” ran the story which gave the Nation clout not only in East Africa but also in the world standing.
However, Kadhi would in a few days later be sacked, something he says made him venture into academia.
Recently, Dennis Galava was dismissed from Nation Media Group in 2016 after he wrote a hard-hitting editorial criticising President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership style.
What’s more, the Kenya Union of Journalists only champions for the welfare of the big shots in the industry.
” Let’s face it KUJ is for the big boys and girls. KUJ can never assist a correspondent. Sometimes, if the pressure is too much, even a journalist on permanent and pensionable terms will be sacked and life goes on,” said an editor from a leading TV station.
“The problem is that journalists report other people’s tribulations but never their own challenges. The mainstream media is crappy. It’s sad that most journalists in mainstream come to think they own the companies they work for but in real sense, the management despises them and sees them as beasts of burden who can be ‘offloaded’ at any time,” said a junior editor with The Standard who spoke to Gotta.news on condition of anonymity.
Some free-thinkers in the industry have also called for media houses to announce their stand on presidential candidates, instead of feigning independence.
” You see, there’s no problem if we know a certain newspaper wants to groom Matiang’i or Raila and another one is pro-DP Ruto,” that is okay. Even in America, CNN is rarely objective when covering Donald Trump. But the thing is, make it open and stop feigning independence when your bias is as clear as daylight,” said a TV editor with a budding TV station.
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