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No, Kenyan-listed Nation Media Group is not about to lay off 600 employees. Ignore fake 'redundancy notice'

IN SHORT: Kenyan social media has been awash with false stories seeking to incite the public against the large media house since January 2024. A letter alleging that up to 600 “Nation” staff may be declared redundant by April 2024 is part of a disinformation attack.

An internal memo, apparently from the chief executive of one of Kenya's largest publishers, Nation Media Group (NMG), contains worrying news.

“I wish to notify all members of staff of the Company’s intention to declare redundancy of 600 employees across various departments at the end of Q1 (April 2024),” reads the memo circulating online.

It is titled “NOTICE OF INTENTION TO DECLARE REDUNDANCY”. The document lists the reasons for the redundancies, including falling revenues, and how staff will be compensated.

The memo is dated 5 February 2024.

NMG lists 30 brands in four countries – Kenya, where it is headquartered, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. It is a listed company in all four.

As a major independent news publisher, it is often the target of inauthentic coordinated attacks online. In the first months of 2024, the hashtag #RIPNationMedia was an example of this, where posters used doctored images and videos and fabricated stories in an apparent attempt to discredit Nation Media journalists.

This came as the publisher investigated dysfunction in the delivery of basic government services.

This was not the first time the company had been targeted online. In June 2023, trade cabinet secretary Moses Kuria publicly warned government departments against advertising with the media house after NMG published an exposé that touched on the ministry.

The memo has been posted on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

If authentic, the memo would worry many given its reach, from staff and audiences to investors and suppliers.

But did the company’s chief exec send such a memo? We checked.


Red flags

An online search for the memo turns up no credible media reports. This is the first red flag: if the memo were real, it would have been widely reported in the media.

Secondly, the document is unsigned, which is unusual for an official communication from a major media company.

On 9 February, NMG posted the circulating document on its official social media pages, with the word “fake” printed in red across it.

“We wish to notify you that this poster and the content contained is FAKE!” reads their post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The company has also published an editorial about the attacks.

The "redundancy" memo is fake and should be ignored.

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