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, 22 February 2018


In broadcast news, key facts can be repeated, even if it is immediately after a story is first aired. There's a high chance the audience can be distracted. Also, listeners or viewers can't revisit the same story on their own. But repeating a story in the same newspaper serves no purpose at all. It could be a case of poor sight or wanting editorial oversight.

Normally, the space in a newspaper is competitively filled up, with articles literally having to earn their place, (adverts can almost dictate their own placing, based on the amount of cash paid).

Many adverts tend to be accommodated, even if it means printing extra pages.

This in turn would mean sourcing for more stories to publish and fill up the extra spaces.

And when it's a slow news day, with hardly enough stories, more light stories, or the appropriately named filler material, usually get published.

But it's quite odd to see the same story being published twice, (and in opposite pages!).

Please bear with me as I repeat:

This could either be a case of poor sight or wanting editorial oversight.

Thursday, 15 February 2018


The impact of social media is no doubt profound. So disruptive has it been that mainstream media now often fall short of the expectations of their audiences. But mimicking the no-holds barred approach of social networking platforms could be disastrous for legacy media. And a parental guidance disclaimer could become a necessity, to shield young ones from this type of media misguidance.

Editorial gatekeepers ought to consider parents, who innocently buy a supposed family newspaper, only to encounter disturbing images that could rob their children of their innocence.

It is also common ethical practise to render expletives or any obscene language in a manner that sufficiently captures the essence of a story, without upsetting obtaining decency standards...or appearing to glorifying profanity.

In this category definitely falls common or even popular curse or swear words.

The president of Philippines could be foul mouthed.

But that doesn't give a Kenyan newspaper the express permission to expose its entire readership to Duterte's raw and 'vile' public communication skills.

Arguably there are those who might not see anything offensive in the last paragraph in the article, containing a quotation from Duterte.

But I can bet on the ever-living tenets of good manners that sensitivities in a significant number of readers, will be upset by this brazen disregard of ethical considerations.

Moreover, it's almost guaranteed that this same newspaper has had numerous instances, where its chosen to deploy a less portent version of the explicit four-letter word, to at least lessen its tasteless sting.

And the intended meaning, mood or tone, I am convinced, was still relayed, but in a more socially appropriate manner.

There is a time and place for jokes and looking at the lighter side of life, aside from serious media content.

However, being plain trashy, even for the not so puritanical, can be just so nasty!

The moral of this story is that mainstream media should be more like the custodian of society's morals.

And less like the social media corrupter of public morals.

Friday, 9 February 2018


That a human being can subject another human being to so much physical, emotional and mental anguish is truly despicable. That institutions established to help those in distress exhibit massive failures is definitely abhorrable. That media frailties appear to add to the torment of those experiencing domestic violence is shockingly repugnant. 

In this sickening TV news 'expose' one gets to almost feel the raw pain of the victim, as she narrates what she has had to endure.

But journalists should remember that after they are through doing a domestic violence story, the victim still has a life to go back to, with the attendant dangers probably now amplified because of the media exposure.

After watching the harrowing story, one is left wondering why the victim is not getting the help that she so desperately needs.

According to the report, the aggrieved woman did try to reach out to the police and even a renowned women's rights organisation, to no avail.

But is that all that was available to the reporter, when piecing the story together?

- Wouldn't it have been better to follow up with the police to ascertain why this case was not attended to?

-Shouldn't the women's rights defender also be asked to explain why this deserving case was overlooked?

-Couldn't the input of social workers and other government agencies have been sought, to try and ensure the victim and her children were in a safe custody, after the airing of the story?

I refuse to be convinced that a journalist's role is simply to tell the story as it is.

Not when somebody's life is at stake!

Thursday, 1 February 2018


It's been a tumultuous last few days for the media in Kenya. Difficult choices had to be made between upholding press freedom and walking the independence path, or applying restrictions imposed by the government and putting a premium on being a responsible media. Along the way, it emerged that the press can be viewed either as a protector of public interest, or public enemy.

It appears like the audience may not entirely be receptive to the idea of having a resolute media that does not easily cave in to directives from the government.

Admittedly, it's a bit puzzling that public sentiment can so strongly be against the defender of the public's interest.

Where did the Kenyan media go wrong?

Let it be known that the very public that the press seeks to primarily serve, is not averse to expressing strong disapproval of shortcomings of media outlets and journalists.

Friday, 26 January 2018


Screaming headlines often do a good job of amplifying whispered points in a newspaper article. The main objective may well be to spark further debate. But at times, it appears like the editorial input extends to adding salt or an insult, to drive the point way past home.

In the headline above, what exactly is the intention? To question the abilities of the subject in question?

Or does it also want to raise the possibility of the subject having personal attributes that don't augur well with the management of a public office?

I'm not sure any of these purported observations could entirely be within the confines of fair comment.

This kind of scrutiny of a public officer could also be crossing the line that offers a private individual protection from undue ridicule and public disaffection.

You can question the performance of bestowed duties, but personalising the attack may be wandering away from serving public interest, and result in being served with a lawsuit.

An offensive sentence could yield a sentence!

Thursday, 18 January 2018


It's been almost a week now. And yet the puzzle has adamantly remained unresolved. Many younglings are bound to have given up almost immediately. But a poor soul somewhere could still be in agony, having been made to feel intellectually inadequate. And yet it could as well be a case of looking for Caesar's missing scissors.

The illustration is very clear but there's hardly any clarity in the accompanying instructions.

Normally, one would happily be already counting down the required objects within minutes.

But a minute detail seems to be amiss here. The task is:
Find eight pairs of scissors in the library
The picture, however, depicts an underwater scenario.

And try as much as one possibly can to spot them, there's not a single pair of scissors in sight.

It's not right for a national newspaper to subject especially its young readers, to such a wild goose chase, due to an editorial oversight!

Friday, 12 January 2018


The beginning of a broadcast news story, newspaper article or even online news post is a very critical element. It summarises the main points or facts in a way that grabs one's attention, but still leaves one yearning to partake of the rest of the content. An intro should not be overworked.

It's easy to understand why scriptwriters, reporters or editors would be highly tempted to craft an elaborate lead in.

This, it is hoped, would better entice or hook the audience, and also sustain interest in their content.

But it's better to keep it simple, because natural storytelling would not usually involve bombarding the content consumer with complicated details, or an overload of facts, at the very beginning of the engagement.

Indeed, trying to cram too much information in that initial encounter with the interlocutor, is likely to be an impediment to sustaining further interest.

In this newspaper article, the first paragraph is a typical example of trying to say:

Too much...too soon. Too bad!

There is somebody, who is an astronaut, the most experienced in America, who walked on the moon, was part of the Apollo mission, and a commander of the first space shuttle mission...

Why squeeze all those details in the beginning sentence?

How is the reader expected to process that information overload, without exceeding the brain load capacity?

It's no wonder the sub-editor also got lost in this windy and wordy maze, and actually left out the one detail that made the intro to be devoid of any clarity.

This needs to change like yesterday! (hint, hint).