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.




Tuesday, 14 October 2014


To be in the glare of studio lighting, eyes on the prompter, ears bombarded with instructions and being able to flash smiles promptly, while always thinking on your feet, is no mean feat. The emotions of a TV presenter, however, have to be on a short leash, lest tears lead to ruined makeup.

For the longest of time, I've been hearing the fear of ladies ruining their makeup from crying, only being verbalised. Then comes this night, when a TV presenter actually sheds tears, while interviewing her guests.

It's true. Teardrops can cut through makeup from the foundation to the top layer.

So, what is a presenter supposed to do, when being human, combined with being passionate about one's job, yields tears in a live TV setting?

I will not even pretend I have an answer for that.

The presenter here, said she 'cries' when she laughs a lot. To be fair, she looked amused, although I didn't sense any particularly hilarious comment from her guests, which could have triggered her 'weeping' in studio.

Thankfully, the guest for the subsequent week's interview was an actual comedian. My anticipation was that after a few killer jokes from the funny-man, a stream of tears would gush from the TV presenter. I was monitoring the makeup.

Alas! Despite the comedian's best efforts, the tears were a no show in this show.

The closest it came to the tear zone was a cheeky reminder to self by the TV presenter, to keep her cool, now more aware of the need to keep the makeup on her cheeks region unscathed, by any outpouring of emotions of the laughing-crying type.

And so the mystery remains: crocodile tears aside, were the tears tearing through the TV presenter's makeup, tears of joy or tears of coy?

Feel free to tear me apart.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


The Kenyan Constitution is widely and readily available. Yet, despite all manner of legal experts interviewed in the local press and frequently brought into TV news studios, no journalist or media house in the country, could make a wild guess as to what Uhuru Kenyatta's final move would be, ahead of his ICC summons. That is the bane of a backward looking, clueless Kenyan media.

The press, in this part of the world, chooses to be 'shocked' alongside the consumers of the information it distributes.

The media specialization it seems, is in churning out hordes of stories and endless analysis, exploring every available new angle, but only after a story has 'broken' then literally bombarding the audience with excessive information.

It might be a long shot, but I strongly believe that a closer look at the country's Constitution, 'ably' aided by the input of legal minds and 'all-knowing' analysts, should have made one gem of a journalist out there, consider the possibility of Kenyatta invoking Article 147 of the Constitution.

Yes. Thank you for the reminder. I'm part of this massive failure.

It's no wonder that national Agenda Setting is a very minor role of the local media, which lives and thrives on purveying the interests of political or commercial forces, camouflaged as public interest.

There's simply no capacity being invested in, to strategically empower the media to be able to see what's coming, ahead of the rest of the country.

At least it should be 'comforting' to know that if calamity strikes, the local media and its audiences will all be terribly caught unprepared.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Coverage of children in the media warrants utmost of sensitivity. Their vulnerabilities should not be amplified, while seeking to highlight their plight. That's why it was almost absurd for a Kenyan broadcast station, to deem it fit to have a news item of children demonstrating against a 'rape' case. It's a case of the media righting wrongs against child rights the wrong way.

It's first of all an indictment of a society that cannot protect its own children, leaving the little helpless ones at the mercy of beastly miscreants, who rob them of their innocence, in the vilest of conceivable ill-manner.

The intention of the media may be noble, in covering such debased behaviour by adults, preying on defenceless tots. But even so, care must be taken not to worsen a bad situation.

Aside from the need to get (written) consent from parents or legal guardians, before filming and broadcasting the protest, it's highly likely the children were prompted by adults to participate in a public demonstration.

And the fact that they were demonstrating against sexual assault, means there is a chance this sensitive matter was discussed either amongst the children or with grown-ups.

Such a negative context is surely not the way to impart sexual education to post-toddlers and pre-teens, via the media.

The TV station erred in opting to broadcast the story, without even a care about concealing the identities of the demonstrating children.

Ethics should always apply in coverage of children in the press, especially because their right to privacy is absolute.

Abso-godam-lutely! (sorry).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Media outlets in Kenya like publishing or broadcasting 'wonderful' news. A feel good story helps to reduce the impact from heavy bombardment of negative news. But alas! Local TV news channels can also re-invent known inventions! Behold the 'inventor' of the aeroplane from South Sudan!

Inventors are known to have played a major role in transforming the world and greatly enhancing the quality of life. Take flying for instance, so much convenience has rarely taken to the skies.

It apparently is not common knowledge, however, that the aeroplane was 'successfully' invented in the early years of the 20th century.

If the lower third tag of this TV story is to be believed, the Wright Brothers had nothing to do with the invention of the first airplane flight, right?


The closest that the story comes to an invention, is either the TV station's decision to 're-invent' historical facts, or its spirited attempt to alter the meaning of 'invent' from:

"...to design or create something such as a machine or process that did not exist before."

Now let's drink to that. So, will it be whiskey or whisky?

Yet again, another local TV station felt it was proper to use the two terms interchangeably, when referring to a made in Scotland drink.

Let's toast to media mediocrity!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Long format TV features are gaining popularity in Kenyan broadcast stations. They accord adequate time for reporters to thoroughly interrogate topical issues. This came out in a well executed story on the encroachment of the Mau forest complex. But the coverage was ruined by the subtle media agenda in the Mau, courtesy of a tragic tribal trajectory.

The reporter did well in capturing nearly all the possible angles, and incorporating a multiplicity of views. This element was so exhaustive factored in that the feature ran the risk of losing focus on what it intended to highlight as the key concerns.

But for me, what one interviewee said stood out. He was convinced that it was perfectly in order for members of his community, (read tribe), to lay claim to swathes of the crucial Mau water catchment, given that other communities (tribes) were being 'allowed' by the state to plunder the forest.

The Mau Tragedy can't get more tragic!

If the water tower is destroyed, the serious consequences will not only affect particular communities/tribes. The impact of such a catastrophe will even cross the country's boundaries, and be felt by millions regionally.

And this is why the media needs to be cautious. This issue has already been heavily politicised. It should not be further trivialised by whipping up ethnic undertones.

My observations may be far-fetched. But I got the feeling that the TV station inadvertently perhaps, ended up giving prominence to partisan sentiments, with subtle hints of the editorial slant.

Yes. The media mirrors evils obtaining in the society.

No. The media must not always reflect the rot back to the society and deepen schisms.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Journalists are known to go to great lengths to get details of a news story. This means, travelling to the other side of the world, or risking lives and limbs, is but an occupational hazard. It's therefore baffling, to see Kenyan media being so reluctant to get relevant facts of a story within their reach. A legislator's absence in Parliament, continues to be amplified by absentee journalism.

This particular issue of a Member of Parliament seemingly 'not keen' on fulfilling the duties that come with winning an elective seat, has been in the public domain for months.

The local media, it appears, is only content with re-establishing this basic fact, and the possible consequences of skipping parliamentary sessions continuously.

The press has nevertheless been tracking the development of this story, perhaps it being a matter of great public interest, with the latest update being the petition by the affected constituents, seeking to have the parliamentary seat declared vacant.



For scribes' sake...

Isn't there a 'brave' journalist or editor, with a nose for news to smell one missing element in this story?

What does the Member of Parliament involved have to say about this issue? Has anyone tried to contact him? Could he have valid or justifiable reasons for skipping parliamentary sittings?

Is he okay?

Thursday, 4 September 2014


The English language can play a nasty game on a newspaper editor. One can stitch words together, which on the surface seem to yield a sensible sentence, but which on close examination, amount to a semantic calamity. Such was the case of the millions of refugees, half of whom were displaced.

Refugees. Displaced. Can one be a refugee without being displaced? Or alternatively, can one be displaced, without fitting the description of a refugee? The headline above, seems to suggest there's a distinction between being displaced and being a refugee.

And yet looking through a number of online dictionaries, one notices an almost similar description, meaning-wise.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their country due to war, persecution or natural disaster. A displaced person on the other hand, is one who is forced to leave their home because of war, persecution or natural disaster.

The only difference it seems, is that a refugee is forced to leave their country, while a displaced person is essentially forced to leave their home, not necessarily their country.

Ok, that distinction is now clearer. But still, the article's headline reads:

'Syrian refugees top three million, half of them displaced, says UN.'

Now, say with me slowly:

Syrian refugees are three million. They have all been uprooted from their country. Half of them though, are displaced, meaning out of the 3 million forced to leave their country, 1.5 million have only been forced to leave their homes, but not their country.

Spot the contradictory nonsense?