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Friday, 7 December 2018

FEMALE LAWYER, GENDER AGENDA AND MEDIA MISADVENTURES

A lot of gender mainstreaming agitation has been witnessed in Kenya, especially with regards to leadership and political representation. And both the social and mainstream media have played a key role in fighting gender-based marginalisation. This noble agenda, however, is at times undermined by the same press. Is a male lawyer any different from a female lawyer?


In the article above, the story celebrates the achievements of a high flying Kenyan lawyer.

But the editor, (try putting female editor here), finds it appropriate to describe the lawyer as being female!

It should rather be obvious that it's really unnecessary to ascribe gender identities for certain professions like law.

The reader can easily establish that the lawyer is a woman because of the provided name and picture.

So, to expressly state that the lawyer is female at the very beginning is demeaning, condescending and even a disregard for the many achievements of women in various professions.

Top Kenyan lawyer...Good!

Senior female Kenyan lawyer...Goof!




Friday, 30 November 2018

NEWS REPORTS, NON-DISPOSABLE FACTORS AND DISPENSABLE FACTS

News reports aim to truthfully convey information in a fair and balanced manner. It may appear like a simple task, but other factors often complicate the processing of facts. The audience is assumed to be in need of protection from harmful news, yet the media presumes the right to know also needs to be protected. Some reports though, need a thorough panel beating.


In the article above, the details in the all-important first paragraph 'correctly' summarise the most important facts of the story.

- A family in a given locality

- Exhumed the body of their son

- Their son had been buried for three years

- They wanted to confirm that he was dead

Every thing checks out in the journalistic manual of packaging news reports, except the last bit.

A reputable newspaper of record in Kenya, wants readers to believe there's logic in seeking to ascertain somebody is really dead, three years after they were buried!

Never mind the story revolves around superstitious beliefs.

Ignore the fact that a legal process is necessary before permission is granted to exhume a body.

Concentrate a bit more on the story being very unusual and deserving of media coverage.

Does one disturbing element hit you from the underworld?

I got two blows from the story...namely... Spooky and Spurious!


Saturday, 24 November 2018

INTERNAL CHANGES AND EXTERNAL BREAKING NEWS RELEVANCE

Information shared with a 'Breaking News' tag grabs immediate attention, either because of it's significance, and/or the fact that what's being reported has just happened. It's thus a great way for a news outlet to showcase its ability to dispenses the very latest information. A key consideration, however, should be the relevance of the breaking news to the wider audience.



In the case above, it could be of interest to some that there's a change of editorial guard at the 'largest ' media entity in the East and Central African region.

But does this make the development suitable to be shared as breaking news? (Or with a breaking news handle?).

It's unmistakable that the source of the news was internal, so there's zero possibility of another media house getting the information out first, (now that would be a real breaking news, right?).

So, of what interest is this information to the general public?

At the very most, I think this implied change could easily have been sufficiently shared as 'normal' news, without the added sense of urgency, or heightened public interest significance.


And at the very least, this information could also pass for an internal consumption notice.

But the fact that this media establishment is a publicly-listed company, could perhaps make the management change acquire another level of importance, which requires transparency.

Therein lies the untold story!




Saturday, 17 November 2018

HELLO ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE! GOODBYE NEWS PRESENTERS?

Journalism has been battling many challenges over the centuries. Some strategies call for a little rethinking of the business model. Others require radical shifts. Some internal and external shocks can also be safely ignored. But not when the jobs of news producers, presenters, or video editors could be on the line.



In a remarkable indication of how disruptive technology can be, machine generated content could now favourably compete with professionally and user generated content.

The news reader above looks and sounds like any other person answering to that kind of job description.

But he is not real!

It's all about computer algorithms and its associated programing techniques


And efficiency here, is the key word.

Say there is breaking news or a significant news event that needs to be urgently broadcast.

It will not be so strange to hear of how some Kenyan newsrooms almost go into panic mode, frantically looking for talent to go on air with the news.

Actually, that is how some careers in news anchoring start: Being available at that critical moment and dressed for the part of rescuing the station from losing audiences, or even revenue.

That's why the computer-generated virtual presenter could be a useful addition-always ready to work 24/7.

Some critics say these 'mechanical' presenters lack the human touch that is critical in making an emotional connection with the audience.

But I'm sure there are those who feel that's how news should be delivered, devoid of any 'sideshows' popular in many Kenyan news channels.

It's now also possible to have computer-edited video content from a significant event,  containing a summary of key information, which the virtual presenter can broadcast.

Unbelievably, this can be done in a matter of seconds after the event!

So for those thinking of a career in news production, presentation and video editing, noise the time to get familiar with the concepts of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things.




Saturday, 10 November 2018

MEDIA, STATE AND PUBLIC INTEREST

The media is the watchdog of the society no doubt. But the 4th estate is also part of the same society. Whereas journalists are tasked with the critical role of holding those in authority to account, they should never lose sight of the fact that this is done in the best interest of the public. In other words, the media and the state must essentially belong to the same team that's seeking to improve the welfare of society.


It therefore makes a lot of sense to have the state facilitating the workings of the media, not so much that this will give it a valuable mouthpiece as an ally, but more so because only then can it strengthen one its most critical link to the public.

It's no wonder then that some countries go a long way in ensuring there's adequate support and investment in the media or information, communication and technology sector.


However, the media must in turn discharge its duties in an ethical, factual, balanced and professional manner.

This will then likely lead to better service delivery to the public.

It's not always guaranteed that the relationship between the state and the media will be cordial, but that's no reason for one or both sides to permanently be on attack mode.

The test of a functioning state and media relationship is how well the public feels its interest is the overriding factor!


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

PROF. CHRIS WANJALA TRIBUTE

You never can tell if it's going to be the last time to see someone alive. And neither can other people be certain they will get a chance to see you again. It's a very high stake gamble. Hence  the need to be extremely thankful for every moment spent with family, friends and colleagues. It's hard to believe that Prof. Chris Lukorito Wanjala is no longer with us.


Painful as this reality is, I will always remain grateful for the opportunity to host the late literature don in my house, shortly before his demise.

Prior to this glorious get together, I had extended an invitation to other people privileged to have interacted with the literary critic par excellence, in the course of our university education.

Unbeknownst to many of those invited, this could have been a a final and befitting opportunity to show their appreciation to the man who played such a key role in shaping their various careers.

We had a wonderful time with the few who made it for this meet-up.

It was such a joy to hear him say how happy and fulfilled he felt, and how proud he was of our 'little' achievements, so far.

Unbelievably, Prof. breathed his last less than three months after the meeting in my house.

He was instrumental in helping me secure an internship at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, which was the foundation for any of my accomplishments in TV news reporting and production.

Prof. Wanjala also helped me to secure a scholarship to advance my studies in the UK.

As a literature major student, Prof. Wanjala had broadened my world view, as if aware how critical being a global citizen would be, later in my career.

I fondly remember how he introduced me to Japanese Literature, through the works of Daisaku Ikeda, and especially how astonished I was by the testimonials from survivors of the atomic bombing, during World War Two.

What I read in the books provided by Prof. Wanjala, was to later spectacularly deliver an even more shocking blow, when I had an opportunity to visit Hiroshima, in Japan, and take a tour at the Peace Museum, where the horrors of the American bombing shake the very core of your consciousness.

And even the semblance of media criticism exhibited on this platform, was moulded from drinking copiously from his cup of immense knowledge, during his memorable lectures.

Away from classwork, Prof. encouraged us to explore our creative abilities and unleash our performance talents on stage.

He also acted like a moral guardian, ensuring we don't stray too far, driven by our 'juvenile' dare-devil approaches to life.

Together with my very close friend, we once tried to get him to join us for a drink, hoping he would equally 'facilitate' the flow of alcohol.

His remarkable response?

"I neither partake...nor purchase!"

Till we meet again Prof. You are proof enough that angels live among us!




Thursday, 25 October 2018

EDITORIAL REPROACH: AN APPROACH TO NEWSPAPER ERRORS

A lot of  effort is invested in ensuring what is published in a newspaper is beyond any editorial reproach. This approach, however, may be far removed from the end product of many Kenyan publications. Frequently, the quality falls short of the readers' expectations. 


It may sound unrealistic to demand that newspapers should be certified to be error-free, before they reach the newsstands.

But some mistakes really can wind a reader up.

The last sentence in the newspaper article above is a toxic mix of concentrated hogwash!

What in the world of hocus bonkers is this?
Interior CS Fred Matiang; i has intervened.
i has giving up!