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Daniel Kalinaki Leaves Daily Monitor Assumes New Role At Nation Media Group As Managing Editor — Regional Content

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Posted May 6, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Newsroom ~ 19,120 views

     

Daily Monitor announced on Friday, May 3, that Managing Editor Daniel Kalinaki was leaving to take up a secondment at Monitor Publications’ parent company, the Nairobi-based Nation Media Group. In his new position as managing editor – regional content, Mr Kalinaki will be in charge of overseeing and generating content for the group’s media platforms in East Africa. This would be a new managing editor position at NMG. Mr Kalinaki was in charge of Monitor’s daily editions. There is a separate managing editor for the weekend editions.

Monitor Managing Director Alex Asiimwe said in a memo to staff that Mr Kalinaki would be going on leave with immediate effect as he prepared for his new appointment, which is to take effect from June 1. Chief Sub-editor Don Wanyama has been named acting managing editor. The announcement ended weeks of speculation about Mr Kalinaki’s position at the Monitor and his future with NMG, but it also brought to an end months of a long-drawn out power struggle at the Namuwongo-based newspaper.

We have established that in mid-April, NMG Editorial Director Joseph Odindo told the MPL board casually at the end of a meeting in Kampala that Mr Kalinaki, who has been managing editor since 2008, would be leaving Daily Monitor. The announcement appears to have taken most board members by surprise. It turned out later that MD Asiimwe had asked his superiors in Nairobi to relieve Mr Kalinaki of his duties as managing editor.

Mr Asiimwe declined to comment when ACME first talked to him over the phone on Thursday saying it was premature to do so given that management had not finalised any deal with Mr Kalinaki. In his memo to staff he said Mr Kalinaki, who had worked with the Monitor in various capacities over the last 10 years, had executed all his assignments with “utmost zeal”.

However, impeccable sources in Kampala and Nairobi have told ACME that the decision to relieve Mr Kalinaki of his duties at Daily Monitor was arrived at after Mr Asiimwe canvassed NMG top leaders individually over several months and expressed strong concern that the editor was frustrating MPL’s business operation, particularly alienating major advertisers. It is said that Mr Asiimwe, who is a former advertising manager at MPL, wanted the newspaper’s reporting to put into consideration concerns and interests of major advertisers.

The sources told ACME that Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, had ordered the cancellation of advertising with Daily Monitor and the withholding of payments over the newspaper’s sustained coverage of the corruption scandal at the OPM.

Mr Asiimwe and NMG officials from Nairobi reportedly met the embattled PS and promised him the newspaper would tone down its coverage, particularly criticism of Mr Bigirimana. The MD reportedly spoke to reporters and editors about this position but was frustrated when Daily Monitor continued to run stories on Mr Bigirimana and the OPM.

Other major advertisers who complained about coverage hence causing further friction at the newspaper include National Social Security Fund and telecom giant MTN, sources told ACME. Mr Asiimwe, who has been under intense pressure from the NMG leadership following Monitor’s dismal growth in profit last year, reportedly argued to his superiors in Nairobi that Mr Kalinaki had also failed to grow the paper’s circulation noticeably.

In a subsequent interview with ACME over the weekend, Mr Asiimwe described allegations of a fight between him and Mr Kalinaki as “a figment of people’s imagination”. He maintained that Mr Kalinaki’s departure was part of NMG’s leadership development programme.

NMG leaders had also reportedly learnt with concern that Mr Kalinaki had fallen out with some newsroom leaders, including Mr Wanyama and Mr Chris Obore, the investigations editor. Mr Kalinaki’s leadership style had also caused some resentment in the newsroom, according to sources at the Monitor. He reportedly didn’t take kindly to criticism and was fond of managing by “remote control”.

However, supporters say he brought discipline, accountability and some degree of stability to a youthful newsroom with very little institutional memory. Indeed, sources in Nairobi told ACME that Mr Odindo felt strongly that Mr Kalinaki still had a lot to contribute to the group. One source close to Mr Odindo said the group editorial boss felt younger editors such as Mr Kalinaki are the future of NMG.

Mr Kalinaki confirmed his departure in a telephone interview with ACME. “I can confirm that I am leaving to take up a new position at the head office in Nairobi,” he said. “I am proud of the team and the journalism that we have done. We did not always get it right – and yes, there were divergent views on how to deal with commercial and political interests – but it is time for me to move my career in a different direction and for Monitor to chart a new course.”

In an email to the newsroom, Mr Kalinaki said of his new position: “It is a new and exciting role that I look forward to with eagerness and humility. “

He signed off with a telling paragraph: “We live in a world of renewed pressure on journalists and journalism, from the stultifying pressure of commerce, to the invasive and disruptive influence of new media. I am confident Monitor, which has the best newsroom in this country, shall continue to defeat its demons and continue to publish Truth Every Day.” It appears the use of the metaphor of ‘demons’ was a veiled reference to the internal dynamics that have over the years seen a high turnover of managing editors at the Monitor.

Mr Kalinaki’s departure comes shortly after new Executive Editor Simon Freeman, a Briton, reported to work. The executive editor is in charge of editorial strategy and overall leadership of the editorial department. The two managing editors report to the executive editor, who in turn reports to the managing director at MPL and the editorial director at NMG.

Mr Freeman replaced Mr David Sseppuuya, who left Daily Monitor last July after about two years on the job. MPL had also recently announced the appointment of Mr Charles Odoobo-Bichachi as managing editor for weekend editions.

There have been online media reports that Mr Kalinaki’s departure had been hastened by what some had referred to as his hostility to Mr Freeman, who reported to work last month. Insiders have also told ACME that Mr Asiimwe had from the very beginning preferred Mr Kalinaki to leave the stage before Mr Freeman’s arrival.

But both editors dismissed these allegations. Mr Freeman told ACME the decision to second Mr Kalinaki to Nairobi had “nothing to do with” him. “It was a decision between Daniel and management,” he said. “It seemed to have been amicable and I am not able to analyse it.”

Mr Freeman added that he was not “aware of” any hostility from his managing editor. “There was no problem,” he said. “Journalists love the idea of a conspiracy.”He added: “Where I come from, editors come and go. I don’t know why people are excited about this. People move.“

Mr Kalinaki said, “I have enjoyed my brief interactions with Simon. He is enthusiastic and driven and I wish him and the rest of the team all the best.”

The recent changes come at a time when the Monitor newsroom is under tremendous pressure to increase the newspaper’s sales figures. The Monitor sells about 20,000 copies daily, compared to New Vision’s 33,000, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers. The newspaper has been implementing a turn-around strategy driven by Company Secretary Anne Abeja and rolling out new products as part of an editorial revamp overseen by Mr Kalinaki.

Company insiders told ACME circulation has been growing slowly but steadily over the last six months with the introduction of new sections on cars, farming and a revamp of the children’s insert. It is not clear whether that strategy will be abandoned with Mr Kalinaki’s departure.

Asked about his vision for Monitor, Mr Freeman said: “I am here to try and make the paper better in a difficult market. I have only been here for just one month. You have to look and see how you think you can improve the paper. I am not an expert on Uganda. “
Mr Wanyama said although it was a big challenge stepping in Mr Kalinaki’s shoes, he would rise to the occasion.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “I have been asked to lead a team. My duty is to ensure people have a platform within for good journalism. We have our traditional strong points as a paper. We are bold and independent. The challenge is to maintain those, but also create new frontiers such as appealing more to young people and women.”

Editor’s note: Mr Kalinaki is a subscriber and member of the ACME board of directors.

Source — African Centre For Media Excellence. [ACME]


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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