TWO senior Standard Media group editors have quit, citing enormous pressure "to perform near miracles to increase circulation", writes Dennis Itumbi for

The resignations come only days after  the controversial and much-publicized departure of KTN presenter Esther Arunga, who was associated with a religious cult.

They quit at a time when the media group has finalized interviews for staff to join a new radio station to be run by the group.

Dr George Nyabuga, Managing Editor (Weekend Editions), left last Tuesday.  He is finalizing discussions with the University of Nairobi to join the School of Journalism as Deputy Director.

Nyabuga joined the Standard, Kenya’s second largest media house, eight months ago after a brief stint at the Media Institute as Editor of Expression Today magazine.

He attributed his departure to too much pressure by the Standard management to improve the paper’s circulation.  "I attended many strategy meetings at which circulation was discussed, but I do not know why the management still put pressure on me to increase circulation," he said.

Moreover, he added, circulation of the Weekend Editions had increased by about 5,000 in the period he served as managing editor. On some weekends, however, many unsold papers were returned and this displeased the bosses.

Nyabuga also suspects that office power games by colleagues who were not happy with him may have led to the pressure. It is also possible that he stepped on sensitive political toes with his unflattering commentaries.

The former editor also said the Standard management seemed to have “pre-conceived ideas about the stories to be run” and his own views were sometimes ignored. He was particularly opposed to what he saw as the paper's excessive focus on politics.

At present the Standard’s front page stories are invariably about the Orange Democratic Party, a partner in Kenya’s Grand Coalition Government. The paper sells well in ODM strongholds, but is hardly read in Central and Eastern Provinces where the Party of National Unity (PNU) is popular.

At the same time Nyakundi Nyamboga, Associate Editor (Legal), has also quit the Standard reportedly to concentrate on his studies at Moi University where he is pursuing a PhD.

Nyamboga is said to have found it hectic combining studies with work. He is thought to have displeased his superiors by apparently devoting more attention to academics than to his work.