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.




Friday, 17 February 2017


Communication entails conveying sensible meaning. If the media reduces itself to communicating nonsense, then questions arise about its ability to properly process the information being published or broadcast. There seems to be a growing epidemic of editorial errors in the Kenyan press. And this is not the heavenly picture of a safe haven for professional communicators.

The writer of the above story tag wanted to communicate something to the audience.

And perhaps it was felt that some useful information was being shared

This is especially so, because no attempt was made to change anything, despite the glaring 'nonsense' on screen.

If the offensive story tag was properly screened prior to this broadcast starting, or at any point before the particular segment ended, then it would have saved the station from another bashing from enemies of media embarrassment.

I wonder what 'unsafe heavens' look like!

Friday, 10 February 2017


A newspaper is a mass communication platform. The contents therein are meant to have the widest appeal possible amongst the audience. And this applies not only to story selection, but also the language utilization. Some expressions thrive in a specific context, and using them haphazardly may upset sensitivities. Verily verily I say unto you, oh thee insensitive media, death stings. 

The caption for the picture above, in a Kenyan daily, looks ingenious, although it's been lifted from a Bible verse.

The stitching of the tittle does appear poetic and evokes a powerful mockery of death.

In the Biblical context, the success of death over life is portrayed as ultimately futile, because through Jesus Christ, victory is assured of life eternal.

But, despite the intended message that life triumphs over death, the paper could be accused of trivializing the loss of someone's life.

You simply can't negate the pain of those who've lost a loved one.

Here on earth, death stings!

Friday, 3 February 2017


"He's the only man in flesh, whom you can't look in the eyes," so crooned Michael Rose, formerly of reggae icons, Black Uhuru. And that aura of mysticism is strongly felt at what used to serve as the palace of Emperor Haile Selassie, in Addis Ababa. The historical connection between Ethiopia and Jamaica comes alive. A prophesy appears fulfilled through His Imperial Majesty.

Visiting the residence of the man at the core of the Rastafarian movement, is a truly fascinating experience, especially if you've grown up listening to reggae music, with abundant references to Haile Selassie, (insert me).

In numerous songs, I've heard of how a prophesy by Jamaican Marcus Garvey in the early 20th century about a black king being crowned in Africa, excited so many down-trodden people, (insert blacks).

A coronation did happen and Ras Tafari Mekonnen became Haile Selassie I, and this supposed fulfilment of Garvey's foresight, gave Rastafarianism a firm foundation.

Ethiopia, apparently holds a special place in the wider schemes of things, and there's even a Biblical verse often quoted by reggae artistes, Psalms 68: 31 which states:
"Princess shall come out of Egypt
Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God."
The rule of Haile Selassie was, however, brutally crushed in the mid 1970s, but the belief in his divinity has never waned.

In a documentary I had the rare privilege of watching at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, a disbelieving Bob, on hearing of the developments in Ethiopia, penned a very emotive song, emphasizing his and Rastafarians' conviction that 'Jah liveth, ever faithful, ever sure!
Jah Live, Children ye-ah
Jah-Jah Live, Children Ye-ah
Jah Live, Children ye-ah
Jah-Jah Live, Children Ye-ah 
Fools say in their heart,
"Rasta, your god is dead!"
But I'n'I know:
Jah - Jah Dread;
It shall be Dreader Dread

The fierce look of the preserved lion that used to be owned by Emperor Haile Selassie, seems to underline this defiance.

Another reggae legend Bunny Wailer, lyrically cements the continuing link between Marcus Garvey's prophesy, Jamaica and Ethiopia, when he chants:
For it's no use dying in Jamaica,
'Cause we can't afford a burial spot
Remember Marcus Garvey, predicted that day
When all black people shall be going away
To the land of our fore-fathers and our mothers
Right here in Ethiopia
Indeed. the splendour of Haile Selassie's reign is evident in the emperor's private chambers

And as I depart  from this amazing and awe-inspiring country, I marvel at the rich tapestry of spiritualism, the destiny of Africa as defined by Africans, the turbulence of existential struggles and the steadfast belief of an assured emancipation.

I will definitely derive a deeper meaning, the next time I hear Culture's Joseph Hill saying:
There is a land
Far, far away
It's called Addis Ababa
Another reggae living legend Burning Spear aptly captures the reason why The World Should Know about Rasta Business, by making an Appointment with his Majesty and Calling Rastafari to become a Freeman!!!

Thursday, 26 January 2017


It is no longer desirable to ignore the demands of a digital media environment, and a demanding audience, wielding immense powers because of available options of content and channels. But this should not mean that the media should carelessly experiment in the hope of giving their audience a fresh experience. This can result in a busy TV screen and a multimedia strain.

Yes. It's good to tap into different media formats and either align the content with the best option or even use  a combination to create a multimedia product.

But no. You just don't put together any mashup, and deem it fit for audience consumption, like it happened with one Kenyan TV station.

As depicted above, the TV screen appeared to mirror a web page, probably in the hope of making it look savvy and edgy.

Actually, what was being beamed on air was an online article from another media's website, but with the additional eye strain of a talking head video, being aired live and literally boxed into webpage.

So in one go, your eyes are juggling between reading the headline of the article and the speaker's gesticulations as he makes his point, as well as the lower third information tags.

The ear too gets a piece of the action, trying heard to listen to what the subject is speaking, as the mind works hard to process all these elements, to make them different from nonsense.

Work with multimedia but desists from causing multiple eyes, ears and mental strain for your audience.

Thursday, 19 January 2017


A number of unions in Kenya have instructed their members to down their tools, in the wake of floundering negotiations with the government. The local media has tried to balance between highlighting the public's interest and the demands of the workers on strike. But some TV news graphics seem to be passing subliminal messages in solidarity with the strikes.

Is it a case of deliberate endorsement or an editorial oversight?

Who is being urged to 'Boycott lectures'?

Is it the audience?

Or is the on-screen graphics meant to pass a call to action message to those not aware of the industrial action?

The first look at the lower third information tag, and a second look at the visuals of striking workers, could possibly help rally support for more institutions to join in.

And not only can more lecturers be mobilized to join in the strike, university students can also be persuaded to abandon their classes.

So much for neutrality in news coverage.

So little of average gatekeeping.

Friday, 13 January 2017


It's an often asked question. Does language determine thought, or it's the thought process that influences language? For the media in Kenya, other languages often seem to dictate how ideas are expressed in English. And in the absence of an equivalent expression, the default is direct translations. 

A debatable case in point is the above cartoon strip.

Hypothetically speaking, the creative mind here (or the support editorial brains), could have had an internal monologue in a local dialect, and it made sense to say:

"I'm thirsty for tea"

This, by all means could be perfect English, but it sounds quite awkward both from the mouth and to the ear

The equivalent in, say Swahili, would be:

"Niko na kiu ya chai" or "Nahisi kiu ya chai",  depending on where one grew up.

What would work for me in this case is:

"I feel like taking tea."

But I'm not a teetotaler!

Friday, 6 January 2017


In times of rising political temperatures, some say the media should remain neutral. Others argue everyone is a political animal and that media owners and members of the press are better off declaring their political affiliations. It is foolhardy though, to purport to represent the views of an entire country. There's need to dash this myth of dashed hopes.

So, going by the front page scorcher above, just whose hopes were dashed?

I can't recall harbouring any expectations that in the end were not met, (I know many others probably did).

But that perhaps shows the media shouldn't generalise with such overzealous abandon, (unless it is a case of agenda setting with a hidden agenda).

After all, politicians in Kenya are more known for over promising and under delivering, at the highest cost to taxpayers.

In any case, those who support the ruling party/coalition are also Kenyans, and it is not hard to imagine they are jubilating!