Nation Media board in a crisis meeting over falling journalism standards

His Highness The Aga Khan. Nation Media Group’s majority shareholder.  PHOTO/COURTESY
By OUR CORRESPONDENT
newsdesk@reporter.co.ke
The Nation Media Group (NMG) board of directors held a crisis meeting to discuss falling journalism standards that has put the media company in the spotlight.
Reports reaching us say the chairman of the board, Mr Wilfred Kiboro, summoned the meeting following instructions from His Highness The Aga Khan headquarters in France.
The media company has been accused by the opposition coalition National super Alliance (NASA) of being pro-Jubilee Party a development that has resulted in the newspaper’s sales in NASA strongholds countrywide nose-diving tremendously.
As a quick fix to the editorial crisis facing Kenya’s leading publicly listed media company, the board has recalled former editorial director, Mr Wangethi Mwangi, “to provide leadership to the editorial board.”
The NMG editorial board is a distinct body from the Group’s board of directors and it is the custodian of its editorial policy. However, in the recent past it has been viewed as being ineffective in discharging its mandate.

Nation Centre. The headquarters of NMG. PHOTO/COURTESY

The Group’s publications have in the recent past been on the spotlight from both readers and politicians over what are viewed as “news spins” or stories suspected to be planted by political spin doctors to influence the agenda of their presidential candidates or political parties.

A story that is said to have ‘broken-the-camel’s-back’ is a story on the Supreme Court full judgement on why it nullified the presidential election.
The Daily Nation carried a story the following day headlined “IEBC staff let off the hook as judges explain petition ruling” that seemed to absolve the IEBC from blame over the shambolic General Election.
http://www.nation.co.ke/news/IEBC-staff-let-off-the-hook–/1056-4105260-8ma4lqz/index.html
According to legal experts, the Supreme Court detailed judgement squarely blamed the electoral commission and its chairman Wafula Chebukati, for the failure of the presidential election.

The court’s full judgement said that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to run a legal or constitutional poll.
The Daily Nation headline attracted attacks from opposition supporters on social media who accused it of being pro-Jubilee Party.
The headline contradicted the newspaper’s editorial headlined: “IEBC has to get it right in repeat poll” 
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Editorial/IEBC-has-to-get-it-right-in-repeat-poll-/440804-4105248-format-xhtml-gmv9js/index.html
It also contracted a commentary by the paper’s columnist, Mr Macharia Gaitho, who is also currently heading NMG’s Election Desk.
How inconsistent result forms shored up Raila’s petition
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/How-inconsistent-result-forms-shored-up-Raila-s-petition-/440808-4105162-format-xhtml-xmhyqgz/index.ht

However, those conversant with developments at NMG indicate His Highness The Aga Khan is set to effect sweeping changes at the company he founded towards Kenya’s independence to  “foster democracy, good governance, a just society.”
This is after investigations by both the editorial board and the board of directors revealed that senior management staff and top editors had formed companies through proxies which had won multi-million contracts from both the national and County governments.
It is this conflict of interest among senior editors that has sparked protests from correspondents, reporters and editors who are saying it is now nearly impossible to report about misgivings in some departments at the national government and in numerous counties.

“Correspondents, reporters and even some editors are demoralized because any stories they write unearthing corruption and mismanagement in some counties are “killed” because of the influence of editors whose companies have won lucrative contracts,” insiders at NMG said.

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