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, 18 January 2019


Understand the key facts. Narrow down the angles of the presentation. Then when the cue comes, remain calm, look straight at the camera and talk the viewer through the salient points of the news story. Everything is supposed to come alive, when you go live.  But that is often not the case in the life of a broadcast journalist. In the middle of a live event, the audience should not demoralise reporters by being too judgemental.

The intention is to be professional but the outcome may sometimes not profess broadcast brilliance.

This is especially so, when caught up in a tension-packed event like a terror attack.

The basic tenets of questioning an interviewee can hibernate to the remotest corners of the psychic plane, and what comes out can dangerously border on blatant violations of ethical standards.

Even fort the most experienced, the path to a clean and professional presentation is littered with so many potentially debilitating elements.

It could be a very firm realisation that English is not your first language, and this added pressure could make it even harder for one's brain to seamlessly translate thoughts coming through in mother tongue, bearing in mind that the tape is rolling and the feed is also live on air.

The loss of composure could translate into a seemingly uncontrollable flow of sweat, with the eyes fixated at the camera lens, and the neck tie feeling like an ever-tightening noose, in full public glare.

Relaying live pictures of security operations seeking to rescue lives from imminent peril is frowned upon.

And so should live streaming of destructive social media criticism that ends up demoralising reporters trying their best to keep the public informed, and much more, despite the evident danger.

Friday, 11 January 2019


A creative TV commercial has a rather surprising ending. It captures all the leading football teams in the English Premier League, except one obvious one. This mirrors a past trend with Kenyan media outlets, that deliberately refrained from giving direct competitors any publicity. It seems we could be back in those dark ages of media competition and mediocre tactics.

The selection of a particularly awful picture of a popular news anchor appearing in a rival media platform is quite telling.

Is there an untold story behind the quality of the image, and the editorial decision to publish it?

It seems like a deliberate attempt to remove some of the shine from a representative of the competition.

And this is perhaps the reasoning behind the advert by a bank associated with the title sponsor of the EPL.

The decision to leave out any reference to the team currently leading the same football league, could be based on the fact that it happens to have a rival bank as a shirt sponsor.

If a picture is worth a thousand words...this one may need a thousand apologies!

Thursday, 3 January 2019


In the seemingly over-supply of TV channels in Kenya, a broadcast outlet has to go many extra miles to attract and retain viewership, and possibly make some profit while at it. Branding is an essential element in this strategy, after taking care of basic elements like great content. Expecting the audience to identify a channel from a blank screen is not the way to a blank cheque.

A news broadcast is a key pillar in drawing in viewers to a station, despite the fact that practically all the competing channels offer almost identical news coverage.

But this means a station has to put more effort in fending off the competition, which can as well start from the look and feel of the initial on air news ident board.

In years gone by, corporate entities used to pay a tidy sum to have their logos or products displayed alongside the countdown clock for the news, because this was one of the 'primest' of broadcast prime time.

Sadly, advertisers appear to have realised not so many people nowadays tune-in for prime time TV news in Kenya.

And this could perhaps explains the drab, dull, dreary and depressing news board idents, like the one highlighted above.

If you can't promote external products before the news for a fee, why not promote your own content for free?

Oh...wait....what content?

Friday, 28 December 2018


It's always pleasant to see fresh talent coming through the Kenyan TV news scene. It's an apt assurance that the fine craft of journalism will have continuity. What's coming through could range from raw brilliance to refined resilience on the training curve. But if it's written Maina, and looks like Maina, it's very likely not supposed to be pronounced 'Meina', lest you awaken a minor fault maniac.

The story depicted above was delivered in an unusual yet delightful way, away from the pattern of visuals, soundbites, natural sounds, sign-off, prevalent across many local TV news channels.

Unfortunately, what stood out for this particular 'minor fault maniac' is the feeble attempt to anglicise the local name of the key subject in the story.

The folly of perhaps wanting to sound sophisticated falls apart on the alter of inconsistency.

The reporter strives to maintain the 'Meina' reference but on more than one occasion, the 'unsouped up' version comes through as the common 'Maina'.

It's good to aspire to be different, but being authentic is often good enough.

Friday, 21 December 2018


In stage plays, the dramatists are often implored to avoid showing their back to the audience. The state of emotions emanate from the face, it appears, so the need to constantly face the audience. In theatre, inexperienced performers have to rehearse proper turning movements. TV news directors should incorporate this practise, to keep some things away from the camera eye and the viewer.

TV being a visual medium, the eyes pick up details remarkably very well, especially anything unusual on the news presenter.

That partly explains why many broadcasting stations enlist the services of a make-up artist, tasked with 'polishing' up the presenters.

But some things cannot be 'hidden' from a viewer, using even the most powerful of of make-up, and so should be carefully kept away from the camera eye.

Is there no other place female presenters can fasten their wireless mic gadgets?

The audience need not be distracted from partaking of the content, by irregular configurations on the back of news presenters.

Back to you!

Friday, 14 December 2018


To astonish readers is to attract and possibly command their interest, even if for a fleeting moment. And that's why the media happily pick on superlatives and words that are designed to hype a story. This runs the risk of sometimes distorting the reality, but it seems the dividend of locking in the audience, is a valuable payoff. So editorial scraps can easily translate to newspaper skyscrapers.

In the article above, a reader is likely to be drawn in by the headline, which creates the impression that a very high-rise building is being put up.

The average person is bound to be interested by extra-ordinary things and a skyscraper adequately fits the bill of being nothing short of a visual spectacle, for many people.

The expectation is thus heightened only to be followed by a spectacular deflation.

The building in question, it soon emerges, is a mere eleven floors high!

Sure...It's a skyscraper...For Lilliputians!

Friday, 7 December 2018


A lot of gender mainstreaming agitation has been witnessed in Kenya, especially with regards to leadership and political representation. And both the social and mainstream media have played a key role in fighting gender-based marginalisation. This noble agenda, however, is at times undermined by the same press. Is a male lawyer any different from a female lawyer?

In the article above, the story celebrates the achievements of a high flying Kenyan lawyer.

But the editor, (try putting female editor here), finds it appropriate to describe the lawyer as being female!

It should rather be obvious that it's really unnecessary to ascribe gender identities for certain professions like law.

The reader can easily establish that the lawyer is a woman because of the provided name and picture.

So, to expressly state that the lawyer is female at the very beginning is demeaning, condescending and even a disregard for the many achievements of women in various professions.

Top Kenyan lawyer...Good!

Senior female Kenyan lawyer...Goof!