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Standard Group Dispart With Caroline Mutai



NAIROBI, KENYA: The Standard Group Management has parted ways with its Digital Editor Caroline Kimutai after slightly five years at the Mombasa Road based company.

Caroline Kimutai’s exit is a sigh of relief to the company having failed to deliver to the expectation of the management. Her tenure saw the readership of the website drastically reduce making the once number one news website in the country lose its taste and previous ranking to the likes of Tuko, Citizen Digital and Nation.

Her management style was riddled with witch-hunt, trial and error making weird decisions which staff under her widely questioned. “We knew it was only a matter of time before the lady was fully exposed, she viciously fought her juniors who held different opinion. She had a hand in the exit of nearly all staff she found at the Standard Digital,” says a former staff.

“She did not want competition, if you were a threat to her, she would frustrate you up to the end.”

What she did not know was that her malice and tactics to survive were only weaking the digital department.

According to State of The Media Report carried out by Media Council of Kenya in 2022, Standard website was ranked number Four as the most visited news website from the number one position it enjoyed before Caroline Kimutai took over from David Ohito, the then Editor who left the position to vie for Ugenya Parliamentary seat in 2017.

What baffled many in the newsroom was her depth and understanding of news, key ingredients needed for somebody who held her position to compete effectively in a modern newsroom environment. She is a person who could not shape a reporter’s story and lacked meaningful contacts of news sources, something which left many wondering how she found herself in that position.

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To protect her incompetence, she convinced the people who hired her to make Samuel Wambua as her deputy kicking out editors, she found at Standard Digital who had discovered her inadequacies and were not ready to be used while she pocketed salary every end month.

She relied 100 per cent on Sammy Wambua to attend editorial planning meetings and other jobs which needed her input. When Wambua left the company early this year (March), everyone wondered how she was going to go about her business without his support. It however didn’t take long before the Editor-In-Chief Ochieng Rapuro announced changes which saw her exit.

Sarah Okuoro was made acting Digital Editor (Digital) a position previously held by Kimutai while William M Bulemi was appointed as the head quality at Standard Digital in Changes announced towards the end of April.

Sources say Kimutai was caught unaware by the changes and days after the changes, she kept on issuing her usual half-baked instructions to staff not knowing what was awaiting her.

According to the source, it is also during Caroline Kimutai’s tenure that Standard Group saw massive disappearance (deletion) of articles implicating businessmen, politicians in scandals from the website.

“Caroline Kimutai was a disaster, she did not have a strategy to lead online department. She had poor understanding of what news is, couldn’t come up with useful news ideas to drive up traffic or make readers pay to read premium articles.”

“We were shocked in 2021 when she started locking up stories. Hers was a pure guess work, without conducting any research and just copying what Nation was piloting then but has since abandoned, all Standard online stories were being locked as premium. What she didn’t know was that similar stories were available for free in other websites.”

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It is said that her understanding of Google Analytics in guiding stories planning was at all time low actually she was semi-illitrate when it came to matters digital. She killed crucial products such as Ureport, SDE (Standard Digital Entertainment) and ran into a lot of problems with the Nairobian team. The Nairobian team opted for their own micro-website away from Caroline Kimutai’s management.

After succeeding in doing away with nearly 90 percent of staff she found, she went on hiring her friends to replace staff so that she can have a monopoly on the decision making, many of tech companies complained of how she always asked for payment before stories could be published on the digital platforms. On top of the payments she would ask to be issued with the latest products i.e phones so that thwir launches could be highlighted on the digital platform. The end result is out there for all to see.

She is leaving at a time when Standard Group PLC is struggling financially with huge salary arrears for staff running into months.

Recently the Group reported loss before tax of nearly Sh1 billion. The company owes saccos affiliated to it money amounting to millions of shillings putting members savings at risk. Staff who were fired under redundancy programme early this year have not received their pension benefit, an exercise which previously before the financial problems took three to four weeks to process.

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