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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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

OF INFERTILE NEWS COUPLES, CHILDLESS PARENTS AND TV GRAPHICS

Words are the building blocks of communication. Whether in isolation or combination, they are used to convey meaning. But frequently for the media in Kenya, words are carelessly stitched together. And it's no longer shocking to find TV graphics alluding to infertile news couples or childless parents.



Only a fertile imagination, perhaps, can come up with the details in the straps above.

What in the name of procreation, is the viewer expected to make of the words, 'news couples' and the supposed fact that 2 million of them are infertile?

That pseudo-statistic arises from a very minor error, but the outcome is a major source of editorial embarrassment.

Another critical element is context.


Each of the words may appear to make sense, like the lower-third information above, but what they collectively imply may not be sensible at all.

How such an obvious contradiction can escape the scrutiny of editorial gatekeepers is another newsroom wonder.

But the on-air result is far from being wonderful!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

TV NEWS, STAR PERSONNEL AND THE WRITING ON THE CAMERA LENS

Broadcasting stations in Kenya have raised their rivalry a notch higher. And this has in turn sparked a scramble for star talent, perceived to be critical in curving a competitive advantage. But there's a growing need to re-engage the audience, because a personnel-centred approach in TV news can only deliver so much. The writing is on the camera lens.


In these 'post-millennial' days, it was surprising that the above live cross with the 'seasoned' reporter/editor, had to be aborted on account of such an elementary technical challenge.

As if the battery status message appearing on screen was not damning enough, the news production crew allowed the live signal to continue, until the camera gave up the ghost, leading to an on air freeze.

It's likewise important then, not to ignore any indication that a channel could be deviating from its core functions.

Enough with 'Tanite' and its associated TV foolery, and let's get focused on the needs of the viewer.

A station may opt to bring together a star-studded team to enhance the delivery of content.

If the content is wanting, however, no amount of 'fine' delivery would compensate any lack of serious substance to offer the audience.

May 'tanite' find its way back to 'tonight'!








Thursday, 2 August 2018

JOURNALISM, ADJECTIVES & ULTRA-MODERN CRAP!

It's not easy to find media reports that are agreeable with the entire audience. That's why being objective or balanced ranks high in journalism. That way, the audience gets to draw their own conclusion. So why should a newspaper purport to use a universal description of something? Adjectives like 'ultra-modern' could as well be describing crap.



The caption above describes one thing, but the picture seems to show another.

What is actually meant by 'ultra-modern' and is it applicable across the board in terms of perceptions?

In other words, if according to the newspaper something is 'ultra-modern' are readers still allowed to hold a different opinion?

A good journalist tries to avoid such superficial use of generalised adjectives, especially when dealing with hard news.

Such kind of value judgement is suspect!

But you be the judge.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

MEDIA, MEANING SUBTRACTION AND NONSENSE ADDITION

Interpretative storytelling is the crown of journalism, and many an editor will frown upon stories that merely state obvious facts, or regurgitate what news subjects said or did. But the media sometimes subtracts meaning and adds nonsense, which leaves the audience none the wiser.  


In the above picture caption, it's being suggested that physical well-being is an attribute that's being directly linked with home ownership.

If 'healthy' individuals own some of the depicted houses, is the reader supposed to imagine there is another group of 'unhealthy' individuals in the same settlement scheme that don't own houses like those captured in the photo?

And just how insensitive can that kind of reporting be?

Here, it looks like there's inadequate editorial 'wealth'...

...and that is not healthy!

Friday, 20 July 2018

TV NEWS AND LOWERING THE QUALITY OF LOWER THIRDS

Delivery of information is critical in media operations. If important details are not passed across in a clear manner, then the entire point of communication is undermined. It doesn't make much sense to spend so much time and resources in news gathering and processing, then do a shoddy presentation. Such has led to the lowering of the quality of TV news lower thirds.


Why should a viewer struggle so much to read what is being splashed across the TV screen, as part of the editorial content of a news story?

The lower third story tags are supposed to provide additional context to a story, or even enable one to immediately get the gist of a news item, from the choice of key words on display.

Moreover, a viewer could be in a place where the TV is on but the volume is turned down, and so the on screen text acts as valuable conduit of pertinent details about a news story, in summary form.

The challenge for news producers is extracting critical information from a story, and deploying the resulting text in a limited space.

In some news production systems, the software automatically leaves out any excess characters and you either end up with an incomplete set of information, with the missing text making it difficult to understand, or an unintelligible mash up of pseudo-characters.


Other systems accommodate the extra characters but also in the process, reduce the font size.

This is great, but only to the point of not making viewers squint, as they try to navigate through the now miniaturised body of text, battling for a breathing space.

That is not a favourable bottom line!




Friday, 13 July 2018

ONE EVENT, TWO NEWSPAPERS, SAME COVERAGE, DIFFERENT FACTS

Media outlets strive to get unique content. Exclusive content stands out, and potentially enhances ratings or readership. The challenges though, is to differentiate your content from that of your competitors, from a coverage of same events. The risk of two newspapers reporting different facts from one event,  is never far, it seems.



What or who is the audience supposed to believe, when two of Kenya's top newspapers give a contradictory interpretation of one court ruling?

Both papers can't be telling the truth, can they?

And is it safe to conclude that one paper is lying?

The angling of the story could perhaps be the cause of the differences in the coverage.


But looking at the two headlines in the two papers, the writers of the two articles could as well not have been referring to one court session.


How else could one court ruling spawn opposite interpretations?

This is one sure way of courting controversy!






Thursday, 5 July 2018

NATIONAL PAPER, LOCAL ISSUES: SO WHY A FOREIGN IMAGE?

It's a good idea to think global and act local. In Africa though, what is local stands a very good chance of being despised. And what is perceived to be global, which might actually be just foreign, is readily espoused. That's why a newspaper that primarily targets a Kenyan audience, will use a foreign looking image to illustrate local situations.


It might be deemed to be inappropriate or even unfair to ask whether a newspaper in the U.S. might find it useful to use images depicting a setup in Kenya, nay Africa, to explain a situation in America.

Here, the Kenyan writer of the article is highlighting the folly of equating a relationship to a source of income.

The couple chosen for the illustration of this situation can pass off as African, with a lot of imagination.

But the worrisome detail from the image in this context, is the currency in view.

Is it that Kenyan money (and couple) was found wanting, or hopelessly insufficient to capture the essence of the story?

And only the 'mighty' U.S. dollar could do the job?

This is a sure way of diminishing local value systems, and adding value to the notion that that which is foreign will always be superior.

Away with this inferiority complex!