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.

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Friday, 23 June 2017

LIKE IT OR NOT, UNLIKE AS A LEAD IN A READ IS UNLIKABLE

Unlike, at the beginning of a story, I don't like. For the media, this amounts to making an untenable assumption about your audience. That their minds can supply the missing details they've been denied by the writer. Like it or not, unlike as a lead in a read is unlikable.

It's a bit taxing on the reader, if a newspaper article begins as if other critical details in understanding the story have already been furnished.

Yes, there is a not too bad possibility that this type of writing could be fresh and mercifully different from the 'tired', tried and tested formula of crafting story introductions.

However, any style of writing should not wander far off the known natural conversation patterns.

Imagine meeting a person you've not met for a long time...no...scratch that.

Imagine meeting a stranger and the first thing you say to them is, "Unlike...".

That's bound to cause some barely bearable confusion, as one desperately tries to hang on to every word that follows, in order to make sense of what is being communicated.

Terribly ingenious in a fabulously non-functional manner, I would say.

Unless...you are like...unlike...is like...a likely....likelihood!

Unlike...me!



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

TO TRAIN OR RAIN STAFF: THE STUFF OF TV NEWS ERRORS

What will it take to rid editorial eyesores from Kenyan TV news channels? It seems like a newsroom and studio gallery plague that just won't go away, no matter how many times the errors are pointed out. Mistakes happen, but again, so do corrections. And with live TV, the rectification process should begin soon and end immediately. 


It doesn't take much effort to change from rain to train now, does it?

How ironic is it for a discussion in one of the local channels to highlight the need to better equip journalists with relevant training, and yet the lack of a very elementary competence keeps being flashed on the screen.

Spelling!!!

How annoying is it to not only spot a mistake on air, but to see it over and over again?

Like I have often argued frequently, the many eyes in a particular TV production need to see more of these unsightly errors, and the brains scattered around the production chain should not all be scatter brains!

Friday, 9 June 2017

EDITORIAL ABDICATION AND DICTATES OF COMMUNICATION ETIQUETTE

The media, it is often argued mistakenly, is a reflection of society. This in not an accurate description simply because the media ought to inspire the society to aspire to some higher ideals. In other words, there's a good reason why newsroom gatekeepers play such a critical role. And there's always an editorial obligation to enforce communication etiquette. 


News sources and subjects given space or platforms in media outlets should also espouse qualities that foster the collective well-being of the society, even as they criticise what they deem not to be right.

However, as much as Kenya's lowly politicians are fond of doing it, it's not in the public's interest to use narcissistic language like:
"I demand to be immediately de-briefed on this constitutional lacuna"
So, it's a bit strange that the very confrontational opinion piece above was published in a national paper, in what appears like its raw or original form.

Such articles need not be entirely censored.


But if it is okay to edit for clarity and space consideration, this national newspaper should find it appropriate to ensure the points in an article are also articulated in a civil way.

I demand to see more editorial guidance. Newsroom heads must enforce communication etiquette!

Friday, 2 June 2017

THE WARTHOG, AN ABSENT MIND AND ABSENT-MINDED NEWSROOM GATEKEEPERS

Rewinding facts in a news or feature story could be done for emphasis. There's no much harm in re-stating key elements of a story, to clarify issues, especially. But it's clear some repetitions can be ridiculously pointless. It may be a sign of an absent mind or an absent-minded newsroom gatekeeper.


One look at the intro of the above article, and one gets immediately tempted to visualise a warthog, in all its forgetfulness glory.

For it has been said many a times that when a warthog is chased by a predator, it runs for dear life, but shortly after, my dear, it terrifyingly stops and starts scrounging for food, in the middle of the chase, and the predator in full charge.

I'm not saying the writer or sub-editor of that first paragraph is a warthog.

But with all due respect, their behaviour is the same. The story states on the onset that there are:
"...plans to build a 10-floor, high-end, Sh522 million residential complex in Lavington..."
So we've been told how much it would take to undertake this project.

But the warthog, so...so...sorry...I mean whoever was crafting that lead, found it important after less than ten words, to remind us that the initiative will be:
"...at a cost of Sh522 million."
To make your point, you don't always have to go the whole hog!









Friday, 26 May 2017

OF ROYALTIES AND MISPLACED LOYALTIES

In Kenya, the combination of music and politics has proven to be vital in securing an election victory. Musicians have now wisened up and are demanding their pound of flesh from politicians. As politicians seek to shore up voter loyalties, the musicians are demanding royalties for use of their productions. For the the media, though it's a case of royalties and misplaced loyalties.



In this part of the world, certain communities have a penchant of messing up pronunciation of English sounds, referred to as mother-tongue interference.

This could be a logical explanation for the mix-up of the lower news story tag above, which states:
'KAMP, PRISK demand loyalties from politicians'
You see, the mind could be playing a terrible game on the writer of the caption, such that the way they are used to saying, 'royalties' is how they spell it as well.


Or worse still, the person truly thinks he or she's typing 'royalties' and is even unperturbed by the sight of the word 'loyalties', because the mind is stubbornly 'seeing royalties'.

I wouldn't want to put my money on the probable fact that, here, we are dealing with a case of the writer not using the word, 'loyalties' in the right context.


I also strongly want to believe it is wrong to conclude the entire news production and studio crew in this TV station, on duty then, could not distinguish between 'loyalties' and 'royalties'.

After all, royal media has loyal viewers. (I hope you don't see what I did there).




Thursday, 18 May 2017

PICTURES, WORDS, CAPTIONS AND CORRUPTION OF MEANING

Yet again, editorial nonsense has graced the pages of a Kenyan newspaper. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it's better for words to be banished from pictures, if the caption ruins the meaning of the picture. Of what use it is to seek to add understanding of what's happening in a picture, only to end up subtracting its overall comprehension?


That's what is apparent in the picture above, from a national paper.

It shows people in a sort of commotion, probably fighting or in a physical confrontation.

But instead of adding clarity, the explanation supplied on the side of the photo, heightens the confusion.
"Police officers protect irate women from attacking a suspected conmen..."
What is one supposed to make of this description, members of the press?

- That the women doing the attacking are the ones being protected?

- How do you even 'protect from attacking'?

- And since when is it proper to say, 'a suspected conmen'?

The competence of this sub-editor is suspect, I suspect!




Thursday, 11 May 2017

THE NOT SO OBVIOUS STATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS

Repetition of facts for emphasis is acceptable in the media  But tautology is usually frowned upon since different words end up repeating the same meaning, where even one word would have sufficed. What remains unbearably irksome though, is the stating of obvious facts.


It might be that editor is unaware of the irritation they are unleashing upon their audience.

Or perhaps steeped in blissful ignorance, the editorial gatekeepers couldn't care less if there's material that doesn't add value but potentially subtract interest levels.

In the above article's postscript, the reader is being told that:
"The writer is a writer..."
If I may add, the writer wrote a well-written write-up!

- This blogger is a blogger, journalist and news editor.