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.




Wednesday, 18 May 2016


As a market place of ideas, the media is a carrier of a multiplicity of story elements. That's why it's healthy to see divergent interpretations of the aftermath of recent riots in the Kenyan capital. But some things like police brutality have only one ugly face, despite the different phases of media coverage.

Dead or alive, brown shoes or black shoes, Kiambu or Kisii counties, going for an interview or participating in a political protest, stone in the back pocket or whacks on the back, Cord hooligan or Jubilee impostor...etc, can be the subject of endless debates.

So, the media ought to be careful, lest it unwittingly becomes a vehicle of propagating full lies, half truths, or quartered conjectures.

And there's a big chance that media coverage of the anti-IEBC protests will go through different phases.

However, the ugly face of police brutality needs to be condemned in unison and never condoned even in the guise of law enforcement.

This point comes out clearly from the social media uproar sparked by the behaviour of anti-riot police.

Thursday, 12 May 2016


A public editor of a Kenyan newspaper, recently posited that during a paper's production process, an innocuous lapse in concentration can result in a major editorial gaffe being published. The state of mind (and eyes) of the production crew is thus quite critical.  It is unbelieavable how some obvious errors get to see the light of day. Sub-editing can indeed be killed until it's dead.

An article in the country's leading daily, has raised the bar in English use ingenuity, or is it stretching human comprehension?

The tragic story from Iraq speaks of a substantial number of people killed in a series of car bombs.

They sadly died and no amount of emphasis can augment our appreciation of this fact...that they are no longer alive.

But the headline writer insists on saying: 
"94 killed dead in triple Baghdad car bombings"
In other words, there is an implied possibility of people being killed, without necessarily dying!

May such sub-editing be killed until it's dead.

And may it rest in pieces!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


Not so long ago, Kenyan journalists had little chance of getting an assignment in a foreign country entirely financed by their employer. Media companies even killed some stories that required local travel. International trips were mostly facilitated by corporate entities. There is a big chance of the resultant news story failing the neutrality test.  So, corporates one, Kenyan sports journalists nil, audiences lose.

The immediately perceived or active danger, when support to cover a story is externally sourced, is that the integrity of the coverage may get compromised from the onset, since any sniff of negativity is likely to be consciously or subliminally snuffed out.

Their seems to be a persistent sense of indebtedness to the benefactor, and with it, comes the neglect to be critical of any observed shortcomings, in the past, presently and even in the future.

And that's the buy-in for the sponsor!

It is for a good reason that some media houses have gone to the extent of expressly forbidding their journalists from receiving gifts from newsmakers, or even accepting practical facilitation like getting a lift from a politician, to get to a venue.

But let's be real. Hardly any newsroom is immune to the allure of press junkets.

That said, there needs to be some semblance of even subtle attempts to remain independent.

Splashing praise-song-hero-worshipping-court-poetic-spoken-word-thank-you-note dropping articles all over the sports pages...is outrightly selling out.

The next time you try to sell a sports story about your 'honorary patron' the reader may not buy the spin.

Corporates One...Kenyan Sports Journalists Nil...Audiences Lose!

Thursday, 5 May 2016


There appears to be a deficiency of accomplished Kenyan media scholars, to steer the industry forward, by providing research-based solutions to emerging challenges. Those who appear on local press review TV shows seem to be terribly wanting. They generally are devoid of original thought, but excel in advancing pedestrian, if not inferior interpretations of obtaining issues.

I painstakingly try to follow the panel discussing the state of Kenyan journalism, in one of the local channels.

The journalist and communications consultant are vibrant in their assessment, and articulate their views passionately, with believable conviction.

But when it comes to the turn of the media scholar, the contribution tends more towards the obviously simplistic, and annoyingly commonplace observations.

And it's not helped by opening statements such as, "I like what so and so said."

In actual fact, the other panelists appear to be more knowledgeable than the PhD holder.

A doctorate is earned by contributing to the existing body of knowledge, I would want to believe.

So, I ask, where is the original contribution, or relevant theoretical frameworks, when media academics dissect pertinent matters affecting the Kenyan media sector?

Just how much research is done on Kenyan media? How many books are published annually? Do papers presented in local journalism fora end up in revered journals?

You often hear laments about the quality of journalism training in Kenya, and the lack of facilities or or proper equipment.

The calibre of media trainers is no doubt also a major contributor of the inadequacies permeating through Kenyan newsrooms.

Eradicating the rot will depend a lot on those at the top!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


In my attempt to put together what I humbly thought would be an illuminating piece about the perils of not properly attributing news stories, I inadvertently ended up premising my argument on a highly inaccurate interpretation of a newspaper headline.

This grave error in judgement has since been brought to my attention by a highly erudite former colleague, as indicated in the screen grab from my Facebook wall.

I profusely apologise for any resultant embarrassment to all the entities alluded to in my post and take this early opportunity to also reassure the followers of this blog that I will take extra care to keep such mistakes at the most possible minimal level.

In the interest of having a permanent reminder of my fallibility, when it comes to media criticism, I will leave the original article below, in its purest form of ignominy.

May this be a valuable lesson to me and fellow bloggers!


Objectivity in the media cannot be absolute. It's highly likely there are hidden nuances, selective angling of stories, or even a deliberate bias in coverage, despite the supposed neutrality in serving the public interest. But it's essential for a professional distance to be maintained between the publisher and the published article.

That's why subjectivity indicators like the words 'I', 'we' or 'us' are often frowned upon, when scripting for both electronic or print media, unless in very specific contexts, like when a journalist's personal account adds value to a news story.

And adding value has nothing to do with a TV reporter, e.g., using any excuse to jump in front of the camera, irrespective of how such 'narcissistic' visuals irritate the viewer.

In the newspaper article above, the headline reads:
"Youths: This is how cash set aside for us could be made more beneficial"
So just who exactly is the 'us' being referred to?

The article has a byline, which indicates affiliation to a media entity.

The obvious impression being created then, is that the 'us' has something to do with the newspaper publisher, (the writer perhaps?).

It may look harmless in this instance, but a missing proper attribution might entangle a media house in some serious legal mess, like where negative allegations are being made.

So let's toast to a more responsible writing style:

"To us"


Thursday, 21 April 2016


Aspiring scientists could be well-advised to avoid a section of the Kenyan media. Established scientists would be forgiven for concluding the TV is a certified idiot box. And unschooled journalists should be restrained from covering scientific topics. News is not an editorial experiment, so there's no room for a bogus story like the supposed water conducting electricity revelation.

The scripting of the highly suspect news report makes one continuously cringe at the very apparent display of ignorance.

There's ample empirical evidence to prove that I am not gifted in sciences, in an exam setting, (but my immense interest in any scientific inquiry is a deeply appreciated gift).

Yet I too, with my 'basic knowledge' was appalled by the massively flawed delivery of this particular TV news story.

The use of aggrandizing adjectives grossly distorted the purported factual elements.

And the capacity of the reporter to engage with the subject matter, to sufficiently make it meaningful to the audience, rapidly degenerates into an intellectual travesty.

The sole subject in the reportage is allowed to make concrete conclusions based on very flimsy grounds.

As is the default characteristic of many a Kenyan journalist, there is no evidence of proper interrogation of the assertions being made, during the filming of the piece.

Worse still, there's no indication there was any research done, post-production, to ascertain the core assumptions, before the story was aired.

Indeed, there's plenty of contrary information online, that would have raised serious doubts about the claims that 'all' water conducts electricity.

Pure or distilled water...not a molecular chance!

Perchance Kenyan newsrooms ought to have more journalists with distinct areas of specialization, as opposed to having calamitous all round reporters.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


Simple geography. Confused client. Complacent media. Any of two of these elements in combination, could be at play in yet another embarrassing misinformation by the Kenyan press. That the country's two leading dailies could publish such an obvious inaccuracy is astonishingly baffling.

As I have previously argued in this forum, newspaper publishers ought to exercise some form of editorial control, on even the advertisements appearing in their platforms.

After all, the entire content in the paper, whether paid for, unsolicited or internally produced, is the direct responsibility of the publisher.

And this means ideally, the publisher is liable for example, for any material that is deemed to be offensive or injurious to any person, and hence not immune to any potential lawsuit.

Turning to the erroneous substantive matter, this is one instance where the media terribly fails in its often stated basic role of educating the public.

In actual fact, even the role of informing, as aforementioned, is a massive failure by the mass media.

The erroneous depiction of the position of one of the East African countries, maybe, by a very long-short, purely based on extremely dry humour, could perchance be entertaining.

But this is no laughing matter.

It's a crying shame!