NTV Consulting Editor Joseph Warungu on Tuesday, March 9 opened up on the struggles he faced after quitting his job at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) where he had spent twenty years.
Having risen up the corporate ladder to become the head of BBC Africa News and current affairs department, Warungu made the decision to return to Kenya in 2018.
He was driven by the desire to establish a production company and improve the standards of journalism in the country using the wealth of knowledge he had amassed in his career.
Warungu revealed, however, that he was unprepared for the identity crisis he faced after quitting the job, having been accustomed to enjoying special privileges by virtue of his job title.
NTV Consulting Editor Joseph Warungu pictured hosting an episode of the TV show ‘Sema Kenya’ which was recorded between 2012 and 2014 in various Kenyan counties
“I was no longer in charge of a big team of producers, presenters and editors in London and almost a hundred reporters across Africa. So, who was I?
“By the time the words ‘former BBC’ were used, it felt like professional bereavement. It became clear to me why African presidents hold on so tightly to power even when their mandates were long gone.
“Power and influence are addictive. When they slip away, life itself can seem to ebb away,” he wrote on Twitter.
The celebrated journalist explained that the struggle had taught him not to over-estimate his position in society.
“But to survive this long in journalism, I’ve learnt one thing: no matter how many presidents or influential people I interviewed, I was not head of state. I was not a CEO. I was not an elected official.
“I was simply a journalist – an ordinary citizen put in a position of trust by the people who sacrifice their time to read, listen to or watch our news programmes,” he asserted.
He observed that many journalists’ careers had gone down the drain after the journalists lost their positions of influence.
“I’ve seen many journalistic careers come tumbling down and people fall into depression and alcoholism the moment they lose their influence or leave the profession and can no longer access the high and mighty.
“That’s because they get it twisted. You may mingle with power but you’re not the power,” he noted.
Warungu began his career in journalism offering free services to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) while he was still a college student.
When the Kenya Television Network (KTN) was launched in 1990, becoming the country’s first privately-owned broadcaster, Warungu got his big break as he became part of a pioneer group of journalists that shook up the media industry such as Catherine Kasavuli, Kathleen Openda and Njoroge Mwaura.
It was after his stint at KTN that Warungu joined BBC where he spent twenty years.
Read more from kenyagist.com‘s interview with Warungu published on January 27 here.