KTN Anchor Najma Ismael Speaks About New Job, Political Ambitions

  • Najma Ismail
    Najma Ismail, KTN Presenter and Head of Gender Desk at Standard Group Limited
  • Najma Ismail is among the prominent news anchors in Kenya who have broken the barriers in the media industry.

    The renowned journalist with close to two decades’ experience in media, recently got appointed as the Gender Editor at Standard Group Limited.

    Ismail’s rise to the top is a tale of resilience and patience. She started with a Diploma in Public Relations at the University of Nairobi before pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the Kenya Methodist University (KEMU).

    Najma Ismail
    KTN Presenter and head of Gender Desk at Standard Group, Najma Ismail.

    Her career started at Iqra FM in the early 2000s, where she worked as a news anchor and reporter before joining Sound Asia FM in the same capacity.

    In 2006, Ismail joined Radio Africa Group as a news broadcaster and reporter for the top two English radio stations Classic 105FM and Kiss FM.

    In 2013, Ismail crossed over to Mombasa Road-based media house, The Standard Group, where she was hired as a TV news anchor for KTN where she mostly broadcasted the lunchtime news bulletin.

    Due to her good work, she got elevated to the position of External Affairs/Editorial Liaison Manager at Standard Group.

    In August 2019, Najma Ismail was appointed the Education Goodwill Ambassador by the Kenya Education Fund (KEF), a non-governmental organization that gives high school scholarships to financially challenged students.

    On August 2020, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, appointed her to the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) Board as a member for a three-year term after Pauline Njoroge was ejected from the post.

    Njoroge's appointment was revoked due to her past comments on the importance of the Nairobi National Park to the Kenyan economy which she said has no significance in the congested capital.

    However, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) moved to court to block the new appointees citing CS Balala did not follow the Tourism Act 11.

    Despite the move made by LSK, TRA won the case and Najma Ismail was made an official board member on the Kenyan Gazette dated Wednesday February 10, 2021. 

    Among other achievements, Ismail has in the past been featured among the Top 30 Muslim Achievers in Kenya.

    Najma Ismail
    Tourism CS Najib Balala, KTN News Anchor Najma Ismael with other Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) Board Directors Thomas Lerenten and Alias Momoi.

    Najma spoke to Kenyans.co.ke about her new role and future plans:

    What is your role as the head of Gender desk at Standard?

    Society is strongly influenced by the way media portrays women and men, it is key that as editors we find ways to ensure equality of treatment between them. Part of my job is to change the cultural narrative and force a new conversation for both women and men in news coverage.

    As the head of the Gender desk at Standard Group, do you have any plans specifically for the female gender?

    Yes, women are being marginalized in the news. The news media globally isn’t giving women’s perspectives and voices an equal platform, I intend to help change that narrative.

    However, it’s not just about covering women's issues it’s also about making sure the news content is balanced.

    What are some of the greatest achievements as a journalist?

    Changing people’s lives through my stories. Becoming the first Gender Editor at Standard Group. Coming up with the first Newspaper supplement magazine in the country published by the Standard Group and dedicated to the Muslim community called the RAMADHAN SPECIAL which is published every Friday during the Month of Ramadhan. Being the first Muslim Woman in Kenya to anchor English news in a hijab.

    Would you at one time run for a political office?


    What advice would you give to upcoming journalists?

    Be bold, be creative and always be curious. Look for the agenda-setting stories.

    Najma Ismail (front) with colleagues at Standard Group from left Hussein Mohammed, Ali Manzu and Mohammed Ali.
    Najma Ismail (front) with colleagues at Standard Group from left Hussein Mohammed, Ali Manzu and Mohammed Ali.