If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

HEADLINES: ART, AESTHETICS AND ATROCIOUS TOPLINES

Headline writing is an art. The end product is so designed to attract attention to a story. Keywords to string together are cleverly selected, to grab the reader's interest at first glance, usually based on the condensed information being conveyed. Then there are those specially crafted headings that ooze aesthetics. 


One just can't help but marvel at the beautiful newsroom creation depicted above, from Kenya's only regional paper.

It doesn't look too contrived and in my opinion, serves such a rare treat of editorial brilliance.

Or maybe I'm just a sucker for thoughtful puns.

Either way, the remarkable effort by this headline writer ought to be applauded.

In this part of the world, such imaginative packaging of news content is hard to come by.


The default standard is often atrocious, clumsy or even nonsensical toplines.

There's need for more creativity in news writing. And that's the bottomline!


Friday, 21 April 2017

SUSPECT IMAGE LINK COMBO AND MEDIA MISDIAGNOSIS

These are sensitive political times in Kenya. Movements and pronouncements by politicians are closely being watched. Information circulated by mainstream or social media is  also critical because details can be packaged to either augment or deflate the chances of election aspirants. The wrong combination of images and information can be quite a devastating media misdiagnosis.


The subject in the picture accompanying the link to the story above, closely resembles one of the most prominent opposition leaders in Kenya.

And the nature of the story is highly likely to generate an almost immediate motivation to click on the link, presumably by associating it with the image provided.

Is it a case of click-baiting?

Regardless, this would be in bad taste.

As to who is culpable here, it's quite a complex matter.

- This particular link was posted to Facebook by a social media user not the mainstream media outlet.

- The story itself is five years old.

- The webpage one lands in, via the provided link, bears no image at all.

- The details of the actual story pertain to a different person, whose picture would be nothing close to the one provided in the 'offensive' link.

The Internet may not remember who is responsible, but don't' forget you could be liable for what you post.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

OF TV NEWS PROTECTING AND CORRUPTING PUBLIC MORALS

Kenyan TV news has a remarkable penchant for drifting towards sensationalism, in the mistaken belief that what is shocking will always gel with the audience. It's a pity that a news story seeking to highlight the moral decadence in the society, can actively add to the decay of public morals.


There's need to first point out that what adults do in private is pretty much none of anyone else's business, including the prying eyes of the media.

So, this particular TV news story sought to address the issue of perversion among consenting and supposedly non-consenting adults.

But it went horribly wrong for family TV viewing, (in spite of the warning by the news reader introducing it), when the line of interviewing, (or cross-examination), went way beyond acceptable decency levels, from the overtly aggressive journalists.

And the dirty clincher was the airing of a video clip of not so child-friendly toys!

To serve what purpose I dare ask? Was this so critical in taking the story forward, and if so, shouldn't there have been blurring or soft-focusing of the damn gadgets?

What could be of concern to the public and authorities, is perhaps the co-opting of children in despicable acts that rob them of their innocence, though this seemed to have been of secondary importance in the story.

And that's how the Kenyan media can end up violating the same moral values it's trying to ensure the audience upholds.



Saturday, 8 April 2017

DANCE WITH THE ANGELS JANET KANINI IKUA

It was another office party, those that get triggered by the slightest indication that management was in the mood to recognize team effort. I was tasked with ensuring everyone has plenty of enjoyment. But one colleague seemed to be getting the most fun. She danced her heart out, radiating some form of inner joy. That is the Janet Kanini Ikua I was honoured to have interacted with.

She could burst some well coordinated moves, much to my amazement, momentarily unable to reconcile this display of vivacity with the disciplined and exceptional dedication to duty, when Janet was then a news anchor.

As the Weekends Editor, I tried to make the bulletins devoid of as much toxic Kenyan politics as possible, and instead ensured there was more time accorded to human interest stories, in line with the brief outlined by my seniors.

And Janet beautifully helped to deliver these soft stories in a powerful way.

I once crafted a challenging Intro for her, on a piece on poetry, admittedly thinking she would stumble on the rhyming scheme.

She cast my doubts away, as if dancing through the lines, and well aware of the need to retain the musicality, while saying:
Lynette was sent to the gent of the tent for the rent
But the gent of the tent had no rent for the tent for which Lynette was sent
Even as she battled her illness, she was gracious enough to respond to my call, when I was giving a lecture to some young students, and needed her input.

As I spoke to her,  the attentive class listened in, on our conversation.

There was a mixture of heartfelt empathy and admiration, when I revealed to the class what Janet had told me...

...That she was was at the hospital as we chatted, having just finished one of her cancer treatment sessions.

Every time I replay this talk in my mind, feelings of guilt engulf me.

But that was Janet for you, eager to be of service, no matter what she was going through personally.

So I choose to celebrate her life and the many lives she managed to touch, plus of course her dancing prowess.

Dance with the angels Janet Kanini Ikua!!!



Thursday, 30 March 2017

THE MEDIA, COMPREHENSION BURDEN AND EGGS ON THE MILITARY

Let's assume I don't know. And I don't try to do some research because the search for an answer may leave more questions unanswered. The media should lighten the comprehension burden, especially for the not so enlightened readers, trying to figure out the link between a presidential visit, eggs, and the military.


We get the fact that the Kenyan president visiting the country's troops on the battlefront in Somalia, is historic.

We also expect this to be a huge morale booster to the soldiers.

We wouldn't be surprised if critics conclude this was a publicity stunt.

But from a headline that states:
Uhuru in historic Somalia visit, eggs on the military
...What are the chances of the average reader understanding what the sub-editor wanted to communicate?

Some brains could be fried, (think eggs).

The message may appear scrambled, (think eggs again).

And whether boiled or poached, (sorry, eggs again please), I sincerely hope this particular media outlet does not delight in seeing members of its audience with, (one last time), egg on their face!


Thursday, 23 March 2017

SWIMMING IN THE JOURNALISM OCEAN AND INAPPROPRIATE SEA MEN

Some editorial errors in the Kenyan media scene are atrocious. Others are just plain stupid. Yet some are pardonable, and there are those that are simply hilarious. But then there's news content that is disgustingly inappropriate. See, men, swimming in the journalism ocean, is best left for well trained sea men.


Women too, off course do a splendid job in the media industry.

But see, men, there's something about sea men that...you know...the devil is in the details, (especially at the very bottom of the picture above!).

You still don't get it? Let me build...sorry! Allow me to bring a closer view to you.


Now this is really a load of editorial embarrassment, (please excuse any implied crassness).


Thursday, 16 March 2017

SHEER NONSENSE, EDITORIAL DEFICIENCY AND NEWSROOMS NATIONAL DISASTER

There is sense. There is lack of sense. And then there's sheer nonsense, which some Kenyan media outlets have off late taken a keen interest in excelling at. The Editorial deficiency and inability to convey meaningful information to the audience should perhaps be declared a national disaster in newsrooms.


The on air blunders have ceased to be mere visual irritants.

One is at first amused, then bemused, before being left feeling intellectually abused.

In the news story tag above, this is what viewer is being asked to mentally process:
'Thugs shot dead woman after kidnapping her in Uthiru'
Television is full of make believe content but this is stretching it to the realm of lunacy!

Let's break down the appalling caption to try and establish the scale of idiocy being depicted.

- A 'dead' woman was shot by thugs.

- The thugs first kidnapped the 'dead woman' before shooting her.

This TV news channel should also be charged with first degree murder of the English language!