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.




Saturday, 16 November 2019


Kenya's mainstream newspapers are known to strive to differentiate their content, in a bid to retain their respective audiences. However, even publishers know that in the news business, there's little that can be done to render facts in one story differently. It's therefore quite odd to see the same information take different forms. The angles can differ but not the truth.

In the coverage of the story above, it appears like either one paper did not have it's facts right, or the other was being economical with the truth.

What is the title of the main subject in the story?

Paper 1 alludes to the fact that the Nairobi County Assembly Majority Leader is embattled but still in office.

Paper 2 though, refers to the same majority leader as having been ousted.

If one has not been following the going ons at the Nairobi County Assembly, this indeed could be quite confusing, and frustrating.

But for one who's familiar with recent developments of the same assembly, it would be very apparent that the main subject of this story is no longer holding his previous position.

And that then raises the question of why one simple fact can yield two interpretations.

Or, is this a credible editorial omission, or a commission of a discreditable edit?

Saturday, 9 November 2019


The journalism space in Kenya has experienced tremendous growth over the years. Naturally, as old hands exit the limelight, new faces light up the media landscape. But one aspect mostly amiss with the new talent, is the right motivation and passion for the job. That's why those who remain true to the cause, in a self-driven manner, need to be applauded.

One such individual is the writer of the newspaper article above, more known for TV business news reporting, but one who delights in engaging in a different news segment, on a different medium!

Now that is rare passion.

Away from the familiar territory of business coverage, he ventures into a not so well-known sport locally, and delivers it eloquently, such that the editor has no worries about giving the story almost an entire page.

It truly is an inspired initiative, especially given that not so many regular sports reporters have a grasp of the intrigues and mechanics of Formula One racing.

Vroom-vroom...Zoom away.... to greater heights...Alex!

Saturday, 2 November 2019


Communication should be a simple and even natural process. Information is shared or exchanged between to or more people or entities. It is imperative for that information to be meaningful though, or one that sense can be derived from. And for news media especially, context is very critical for the content being passed to the audience to be useful or impactful. 

What's the significance of the signatures being highlighted in the story tag above?

The viewer is not given any clue as to who the signatures belong to.

In the next set of on screen graphics, there's more reference of the signatures, and them being about to be vetted.

But, it's still not clear who the signatures belong to, or their intended purpose.

There's more information displayed... a little more about the background of the signatures.

But if the viewer is not following the discussions, or happens to just tune in, there'll still be no sign of the significance of the signatures!

Saturday, 26 October 2019


English is fraught with many loopholes, especially for non-native speakers. What appears obvious might not be correct. And what is correct might not be that obvious. Broadcast channels that use English, however, really have no excuse for flouting language rules, or even misusing words. It helps to pause, and ask whether newsmakers can pose, before they get poised to do something.

In the TV lower third caption above, what exactly is the intended meaning?

Supposing 'Ruto allies posed to reject the report', ...wait!...

What report is being referred to here?

Is any viewer tuning in, from whatever part of the world, expected to be familiar with this report?

That's what using the definite article, 'the' would imply, right?

Back to the posing business...composing this strap means.....

....the news/program production team is explicitly suggesting that before Ruto allies rejected 'the report' they first posed!

Posed for a picture? Posed to ask a question? Posed with the intention of falsely misrepresenting or impressing?

Indeed, it would have been helpful to pause, and ask if newsmakers can pose, before they get poised to do something.

Saturday, 19 October 2019


A newspaper of record should strive to uphold the highest standards. Errors are not always understandable. But admitting mistakes and publishing apologies is admirable. There's a thresh-hold, however, in the frequency of blunders, beyond which readers begin to question the credibility aspects and professional integrity. Editorial abdication often leads to a reign of errors.

For this 'reputable' Kenyan paper, there have been plenty of repugnant editorial bloopers, coming out of its production line, lately.

Even when it appears to be an effortless undertaking, like re-reading the headline and comparing it with the intro of the article below, the sub-editor elects to mix-up facts.

The headline talks of Kiir, the picture shows Machar and the Intro also makes reference to Riek Machar. So, the headline contradicts the article!

And how weird is it to see initials being used in a story, followed by a word that's supposed to be part of the initial initials.

If UoN stands for University of Nairobi, what does University of UoN mean anyway, if not total redundancy?

Even the best of columnists, are note spared the agony of this kind of editorial ignominy. Here, it appears like the difference between 'several times' and 'severally' is not so apparent.

Indeed, as a media entity celebrates 60 years of 'quality' journalism, it's not too much to expect that it's gatekeepers would be conversant with the geography of the region it operates in.

I mean, how ignorant is it to state, nay, publish for posterity, the fallacy of Tanzania being a land-locked country?

Like it has been pointed out here so, so many times, there's an elaborate newsroom and production process, to ensue there's a minimal number of errors, before a newspaper hits the news stand.

The optimal situation is to have a flawless press.

But impressive as that aspiration maybe, it's simply not achievable.

There's, however, the expectation that if all the responsible hands do a good job, then the outcome will not be bad for the brand.

Losing sight of the principle of editorial oversight can lead to very unsightly publications.

It's a pity that even petty mistakes have become pretty much normal.

One could be easily tempted to conclude that the casual manner in which these articles are proof-read, reflects the seriousness accorded to fact-checking or cross-checking of details before they are published.

It's good for a newspaper to admit it's mistakes and take corrective measures.

But if this becomes the norm rather than the exception, it wouldn't take an exceptional reader to read between the lines and see the underlying incompetence.

So, here's to more editorial abdication and reign of errors!

Thursday, 10 October 2019


A chronicler of of unfolding events, is what some may define as one of the the key role of journalism. And this often involves witnessing major occurrences from a vantage point, to later put on record what may end up having immense historical value. So reporting historical facts should be a much simpler task. And there should be no reason to end up rewriting history with the wrong news story.

In the newspaper article above, a very straightforward fact is glaringly being misrepresented.

Any good student of history, or current affairs for that matter, should be able to explain how centuries are counted.

In summary, from 0 to the first 100 years, constitutes the 1st century.

It follows then that from 101-200 is the 2nd century.

Likewise, between 1401 and 1500 is definitely the 15th century.

According to this article, the church in question goes back to the 17th century.

This would mean between 1601 and 1700, right?

Wrong, (not you....the headline writer).

You see, the article goes ahead to say:
'Mumias Anglican Church's history dates back to 1885 when the clergyman was speared to death.'
Unless this newspaper wants to rewrite history with the wrong story, the events being quoted never happened in the 17th century.

1885 is actually very close to the 20th century!

Thursday, 3 October 2019


Something dramatic, significant, unusual, of some human interest and dominating offline and online discussions. These are all vital ingredients that could make a memorable news item, especially for TV. But Kenyan broadcasting stations downplayed the importance of a weather phenomenon, whose impact was felt for hours. The news story was dusty, but the coverage was truly rusty.

It was a rare weather spectacle in this part of the world, but the local press appeared to have been reduced to spectators.

Given how accessible this story was, it was amazing how there was an 'over-reliance' on footage shot by amateur videographers.

Just how 'impossible' was it for TV crews to be quickly assembled and deployed, to get first-hand accounts of this dust storm?

And one has to one wonders if this lethargic approach would be as dominant, if a big natural disaster is to strike Kenya.

Indeed, a lot more should have been done by the local media, given their tendency to set up live broadcasts, at the slightest provocation.

Hopefully, the local media outlets will dust themselves off and be more gusty in the coverage of such stories going forward.