Shadrack Mitty: A legacy of impact

The late Shadrack Mitty. [File, Standard]

The production of a mid-day bulletin is one of the most daunting task for most news producers.

This is was the case when I served as a news editor and producer for Nation Media Group’s QTV. Its 'Toleo la Mchana' bulletin aired religiously for 30 minutes with or without the latest news.

Most early morning assignments usually ended at 11am or midday. Some ended minutes to the bulletin. If it needed to be aired immediately, the reporter had to be at his or her game.

Mitty was a sharp, fast and reliable reporter who knew exactly what the story was, and where the exact sound bite could be located and aired immediately. A few minutes to the bulletin and from an assignment, he would edit the clip and work on the script within the shortest time possible to have the story aired.

During those days, the process was manual, some cameras had mini-tapes and required conversion into soft copy in a process executed in the editing suites on the sixth floor of the Twin Towers.

As the news editor, I edited Mitty's scripts for news and features and, for sure, he was not just a good reporter with a command of Swahili, but very detail-oriented.

" I will give you a back-to-back straight-cut of the leaders but work on the full package for the event bulletin," Shadrack would assure me as he dashed to the suites and indeed within minutes, the edited video for the story would be on the machine to be picked by Mark Ndome- the news director.

"Angalia intro Kwa system nimeweka, hapo unaweza andika tag na lower thirds" This was an assurance from the reporter as the story smoothly goes on air beating the one o'clock deadline.

For the five years I edited his scripts from 2012 to 2016, I can’t recall a day I set aside one. His sentences, though long were well punctuated, and one would feel to be part of the story. His choice of words and sound bytes told the whole story. 

For those who may not be familiar with QTV, it was a leading station in Kiswahili run by Betty Dindi after crossing over from NTV where she was the managing editor in charge of news.

As the Managing Editor, Dindi nurtured several talents including Mitty. “Give Shadrack a chance, I have listened to his voice trials, he can do well,” Betty told me alongside my fellow news producer Francis Mutegi. This is after Shadrack had joined the station and worked for months on translations and field reporting

With time, his voice, sign-off and face became synonymous with QTV. He joined the league of his colleagues Ken Wariah, Vincent Oduor, Kennedy Mureithi and Diana Kendi who grounded themselves on the station as formidable reporters.

When Jamila Mohammed joined QTV as the head of the station, she retained Mitty who later rose through the ranks to be a senior reporter at the station.

Unlike several reporters who would want to assign a specific beat, he reported on all areas- from hard to soft news. He covered education, politics and health with the same vigour. He also churned out various segmented features including Makalaa ya Sanaa, Siha na Maumbile and Mazingira.

Mitty wasn't as outgoing, and after the 1pm bulletin, while his peers rushed out for lunch, he would watch other news channels and review his aired story to see where to improve.

"Hio straight cut haikutokea vizuri, nataka kufanya a very comprehensive story jioni, wacha nianze kushughulikia material kwa suits,"' he would tell me or Mutegi as he moved upstairs to the editing suits.

If you wanted Mitty to deliver, you gave him space and time. He worked well in silence.

Later, we went our separate ways - he joined Standard Group's KTN News where he specialized in education while I moved to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

We kept in touch, updating each other on what was happening but at no point did he mention he was unwell.

Go well Shadrack Mitty, a quiet, friendly but very sharp and knowledgeable journalist.

-Anthony Nyongesa  is a former news producer and editor for QTV at Nation Media Group and is currently a Principal Communication Officer at National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA)

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