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.




Thursday, 20 November 2014


There has been an outpouring of intelligent discourse and at times emotional outbursts in the Kenyan capital. This was sparked by very unfortunate and criminal acts of stripping women in public. Is the press only capable of adequately covering this issue, if female journalists get the assignment? Is the stereotyping helpful?

The mainstream media latched on this story, after it generated quite a storm on social media. So when a major protest was organised, news crews were dispatched to capture all the possible angles, as offended women and men, demonstrated their anger at the assault of women's rights to dress as they please.

Remarkably, all the local TV news stations deployed a female journalist to cover the event. Was this a deliberate editorial decision and if so, what informs such stereotypical thinking? And has it got anything to do with the gender of the assignment editors?

For starters, those who were stripped of their dignity in public are like any other human being, before one looks at them as women, so any other 'sane' human being should be able to identify with their predicament.

In other words, this was not simply a case of women's rights being trampled upon, but a serious violation of human rights.

That's why I find it strange that locally, its female reporters who took up this assignment. And come to think of it, most of the TV stories by the international media also had a female voice.

Are we saying male journalists are not able to sufficiently connect with this issue? Or maybe in this case perhaps, any professional detachment with the subject matter was not required.

Incidentally, the men were more than adequately represented in one area, during the news gathering process.

Virtually all the people filming the dramatic footage were, well cameramen!

There's a demon lurking in every demonstration.

And justifiably perhaps, this is where the innate brute force of men in this profession comes in, as the women handle the delicate matters of reporting.

See how demeaning that sounds?

However, there are aspects of human nature that even the best of equality policies cannot help us transcend.

My brain, my thoughts!

Thursday, 13 November 2014


Cartoons found in the editorial page of a newspaper usually make useful commentary on social, economic or political issues. They are loaded with humour and satire, which undoubtedly offer lessons that linger after the laughter. But this is not to say they have an express licence to be licentious. The point need not be blunted by pointless voyeurism.

The above illustration, though probably making a poignant point, appears to have gone overboard as far as common decency standards are concerned, especially given that it was published in a national paper that purports to uphold family values.

Moreover, the artist, it seems, might inadvertently invite unwarranted introspection of the morals of the depicted characters, because parallels can be drawn between real life personalities and the context of the illustration.

Whether this can precipitate a lawsuit is very much debatable but what should not be objectionable is how dangerously close the cartoon is to descending into decadence.

The same message that the 'offending' editorial cartoon is trying to make, has been cautiously delivered in a rival paper, (very remarkably on the same day).

The setting is at the 'pre-honeymoon stage', which is much bearable than a 'post-coital' scenario.

Still, legal minds can help to evaluate whether this in injurious to the reputation of certain people within the Kenyan society.

It does take guts and other associated circular appendages from the human anatomy, to boldly publish evocative and provocative editorial cartoons, but not everyone in the intended audience will be having a ball, (oops!)

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Journalism and Mathematics in Kenya are at best suspicious acquaintances, or at worst sworn enemies. That's why it at times gets so hard to understand a news story involving numbers. Yes, your forte is dealing with words, but as a journalist, you need to get over any disappointing maths grades from yore, and be able to crunch numbers. Failure to do so can lead to editorial embarrassments.

The article above is premised on deficient numerical skills. Something has gone terribly wrong with the conversion of US dollars into Kenya shillings.

It's not a very 'complex' calculation, like say:

Unfortunately for the reader, the writer generously uses a heavily bloated figure, erroneously arrived at, to buttress the rest of the article and subsequently make an impossible analogy with the cost of constructing the Thika Super Highway.

But something more worrying catches the eye, other than the millions masquerading as billions, in the estimation of the article's author.

If this kind of writing is coming from a supposed senior person in a newsroom, what is to be expected of the overall standards in that media outlet?

So, it's no surprise that a very accomplished Kenyan can be described as a, 'Board of Trustee'!

Hey, people, and here I was thinking, "The best things in life are free."

Thursday, 30 October 2014


It is expected that public interest should be the top most priority in Kenyan news organisations. But if there is a slight hint that other interests are being projected, be they commercial or personal, then the value of a media outlet diminishes in the eyes of the public. A News presenter hawking products amounts to conflict of interest, by promoting self-interests and abusing newsroom privileges.  

It's mildly tolerable to see a thinly veiled product endorsement during the delivery of TV news. But to covertly make a sales pitch, by channelling the attention of viewers to what a news presenter is wearing, and later using social media, to indicate where such an attire can be purchased, is broadcasting narrow interests.

Are we saying the news presenter should also be looked at the same way one checks out a mannequin, while shopping for clothes?

To be honest, I would personally have no problem if the news presenter showcases outfits by underprivileged people in society, for example, struggling hard to eke an honest living, because the provided visibility will go a long way in uplifting lives.

Granted, using your access to newsroom cameras, to advertise products from a company you have vast if not controlling interests in, is deviously ingenious.

But the devil in the finer details of what a news presenter is wearing, should not be the primed focus of the prime time viewer.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


It's amazing how many Kenyan media outlets just never seem to permanently want to deal with quality issues. Revise editors, sub-editors, news editors and any other similarly titled newsroom 'officers' tasked with cleaning up print or broadcast stories, need to 'grammar up' their gate keeping. Failure to do so amounts to scoring editorial own goals against their media teamwork.

So, if the publisher of the above 'starring paper' is to be believed, when Southampton scored eight goals against Sunderland in the English Premier League, one of the goals was called 'Wanyama.'

In other words, the captain of the Kenyan football team was not among the goalscorers of Southampton, because in the land of the semantically challenged, he was instead one of the eight goals.

Such carelessness raises credibility doubts because, if a newspaper or TV station mistreats the manner of transmitting or displaying information to the audience, then who knows if factual elements are also ill-treated?

Take for example, this 'gallant' attempt by a Kenyan TV station, to give rare prominence to news events happening elsewhere in Africa. Apart from the Nairobi studio analysis, there was also a live signal from Pretoria.

However, there was one glaring eye-sore of a mistake, during this particular duration of the live coverage. The name of the main subject in the story was spelt wrongly.

This court case had been attracting copious global media attention and yet a respectable local media house has the guts to get the spelling of 'Pistorius' wrong on air for so long!

But such shortcomings have become a frequent sighting in the local press. And, as captured by my colleague, some errors are too comical to be considered tragic.

But whether it was a slip or the editor was asleep, it remains awfully sloppy

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.