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29 Jun 2020

Jacqueline Mahugu, Standard Digital (Kenya)

Kenya Editors Guild says some media houses using Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to enforce staff layoffs & salary cuts


The Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG) has expressed concern over difficulties facing the Kenyan media since onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. KEG Executive Council yesterday said journalists are facing double danger of infection as frontline workers while being victims of the economic travails facing media houses. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Kenya, media houses have been laying off journalists and support staff, and enforcing pay cuts. The pandemic exacerbated an already dire situation, with more than 300 journalists having lost their jobs in the past nine months,” Churchill Otieno, the KEG president said.

He said the guild understood that the measures were necessary during a period of drastic decline in revenue. “Some media houses may have to shut down altogether if they do not find ways to survive until the pandemic ends,” he said. He however noted that some of the austerity measures were being implemented in ways that were unfair, and in the long run would harm the practice of journalism in Kenya.

Otieno said there were indications that some media houses may be taking advantage of Covid-19 to enforce layoffs and salary cuts. “We are also distressed by the unprofessional methods employed by some, such as notifying employees by SMS, that they have been retrenched. Laying off workers is not a matter to be treated casually,” he said.