Intrigues Behind Okari, Mark Masai Exit From NTV

An image of former news anchor Mark Masai and his colleague, investigative reporter, Dennis Okari.
An image of former news anchor Mark Masai and his colleague, investigative reporter, Dennis Okari.

The paradigm shift in the media industry is seemingly changing if the turnover rate at various media houses is anything to go by. The wave is not only locally, but also across the world.

Nation Media Group has in the past few days offloaded several journalists, with former prime-time news anchor Mark Masai making headlines after the station fired him after a 14-year stint. 

Four days after Masai's bombshell, seasoned investigative reporter, Dennis Okari announced that he was also a casualty of the Twin Tower's axe after eight years. 

Mark Masai at NTV studios based at Kimathi Street Nairobi County.
Mark Masai at NTV studio based at Kimathi Street Nairobi County.
Mark Masai

This was necessitated by the company's bid to trim its payroll, owing to the harsh economic times, compounded with the digital disruption in the media space.

The fate of journalists in the dynamic digital space that is transcendent, remains an ongoing conversation, as media executives burn the midnight oil to crack the nut.

Decline in Profits

With the changing times, media outlets that have relied on print media are seemingly counting losses owing to how fast information spreads in the digital space. Trends in the consumption of news have also changed.

NMG and the Standard Group continue to witness a slump in newspaper revenue, as readers shift to digital platforms - and the shift is not about to stop.

The tense business environment has seen the Kimathi Street-based giant morph into a digital-first company, aligning with the changing times.

In July, for instance, Nation.Africa was launched with the aim of driving long-term profitability in the company. 

"Going forward, the Group will focus on building on the early gains from its digital transformation initiatives through further investment in our journalism and diversification of our digital products offerings while upholding its strong position in the print and broadcast media sectors," read part of the press statement from NMG. 

In a bid to stay ahead of the curve, NMG added a paywall on its news content; which required one to have a paid subscription before accessing premium content. 

The media outlet offered incentives to first-time users on the site who were able to access five free articles before a paid subscription was prompted. 

The charges were discounted at 50 percent for the initial six months - whereby readers would pay Ksh10 for daily access and Ksh750 for the whole year. The paywall did not last long - it collapsed.

In a bid to restructure its workforce, the company brought in seasoned journalist Joe Ageyo, in the run-up to the polls, to bolster content. Ageyo was plucked from Citizen TV.

Bringing in over two decades of experience, Ageyo was tasked with leading all editorial operations. This has seen more changes in the space with various journalists shifting to different departments to align with NMG's vision. Ageyo is now the Group's Editorial Director.

Content Ranking

Nation online dropped in the Reuters rankings held on June 2022, after it was placed as the third most preferred online news brand (48 percent) behind Opera News and Citizen Digital respectively. 

This was a slump in the rankings as opposed to the previous year whereby they were placed second with 55 percent. 

Uncertain Future

With the future of the Fourth Estate hanging in the balance, insiders have previously intimated that more journalists are set to leave the NMG space in the coming weeks. 

Dennis Okari with Olive Burrows in NTV studio based in Nairobi CBD.