The highly emotional Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Dr Patrick Njoroge (pictured), on Friday, summoned top Nation Media Group leadership for a thorough tongue-lashing on their coverage of the bank and related economic issues.
In a bid to water down the respected media house independence, soft spoken group CEO Mr Stephen Gitagama and all top editors in tow trooped to the Haile Selassie Avenue based CBK Njoroge’s posh office for an unusual dress down.
Sources say the visibly unhappy governor threatened to withdraw all advertisements from the media house if they do not toe the line.
The development is a big threat to media freedom as editors will now be expected to censure their own coverage, analyses and even contributors pieces.
It is still not yet clear which specific stories from NMG riled the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive but it appears NMG projected a dim economic growth in view of coronavirus, political bickering and excessive public debt.
NMG has, on a number of occasions and as would be expected of a media house of such a stature, offered insights into economic challenges the country is likely to face. Some of the stories were not done by the usual business reporters and therefore passed as headlines – in raw truth that may have rattled Dr Njoroge and the men behind the failing monetary policy.
It should be recalled that the recent IMF mission which completed its week-long visit to the country was not particularly upbeat about Kenya’s economic projections, their deliberate diplomatic language notwithstanding.
According to a credible source, all top editors including those of Daily Nation, Business Dailyand The East African were present at CBK offices.
Incidentally, Mr Wallace Kantai a former business editor at the NTV is the director in charge of corporate affairs and communication at CBK.
The development comes a few days after ‘Business Today’ reported that ‘Nation’ correspondent in Murang’a Ndung’u Gachane was sacked for delaying the filing of a story on Interior Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i.
Unknown to the public, top editors are under pressure to be mouthpieces of not only politicians, top state, public officers and blue chip business CEOs – or risk their jobs.
In the past, a top crime editor (Stephen Muiruri) was reportedly edged out on instructions of then Police Commissioner Hussein Ali.
Elsewhere Mr Gitagama was on a similar trip, a couple of weeks ago, as he visited the acting Director General at the Communications Authority of Kenya Ms Mercy Wanjau. Such visits often centre on two things – favourable coverage against more inflow of advertisements, at the expense of the truth
Increasingly, major advertisers are conditioning top media houses to tell their story or else risk withdrawal or non-payment of advertisements.
The crisis between commercial and editorial interests is threatening to strangle many mainstream media houses as bloggers and online magazines become reliable sources of information.
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