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.




Monday, 27 September 2010


In very simple terms, 'Dreams and Nightmares' epitomizes what investigative journalism is all about. A critical subject matter, told in a gripping and engaging way.

Without ever betraying any sense of embellishment, the reporter Yassin Juma moves the story beautifully. There is a clear focus as the investigations narrow down to the men behind the human trafficking syndicate.

Unlike many investigative pieces that tend to be too descriptive, perhaps fueled by a false belief by a journalist that the unearthed material can tell the whole story on its own, this one probes for answers as the story unfolds.

Yassin deliberately seeks to make his story take on a life of its own, and only momentarily comes into view to establish himself on the scene. The story after all is not about him.

And the patience taken to fully develop all the emerging angles is admirable. The compelling evidence of human trafficking adduced thus becomes more powerful and a delight to watch as an investigative piece.

It would really be a pity if the concerned authorities ignore the issues raised by 'Dreams and Nightmares' and pretend they don't exist.

Monday, 20 September 2010


I have had great expectations of venturing into the domain of a fully fledged multimedia brand of journalism. I still do but the reality is fast dawning on me that customizing all the online skills I have learned to suit my current job is not that simple.

During my academic sojourn in London, I kept dreaming of grand projects I could implement once I resume my NTV newsroom duties in Kenya. Well, I am here now and the quest of accomplishing my lofty ideas is not coming together as I had envisioned.

For a long time, I had developed a close working relationship with 'Google Search' as I sought to put together websites that would not only satisfy the examiners but also equip me with lifelong digital media skills.

But I find it difficult to now even put together a credible web-based video gallery, quite humbled technically, by the amount of coding I have to do, even with the Google-aided assistance.

But that is not to say the challenges are not surmountable. Only that I need to redouble my efforts and dedication to the multimedia cause.

This is where perhaps the sagacity of appealing to the wisdom of the crowd could come through for me. I am not giving up. I will deliver my targets as per the briefs I get and will once look back and ask:

 "How daft was I?"

Sunday, 12 September 2010


Fire guts a number of houses in one of Nairobi's biggest slums. The cause of the blaze according to one Kenyan TV station report: two women fighting over a man, based on an eyewitness account of a pre-teenage looking boy.

Now there is something just terribly unethical about this particular news story. And it all has to do with the choice of person to interview.

How do you subject a minor to attempt to explain how two fully grown women, earlier identified as commercial sex workers, fought over a male client and one subsequently getting enraged and setting fire to one structure, leading to the blaze?

As if that is not a big enough media ethics transgression, the interview of the small boy is aired as part of the story, with no attempt made whatsoever at concealing the minor's identity, unhelpful as it may also be.

Call me prudish, but that is just shameful, a blatant violation of the absolute privacy accorded to children and tantamount to abetting the moral corruption of a minor's innocence.

What well-trained journalists do is at times think beyond the actual substance of the news stories they are covering. Are there other grave implications, especially when dealing with children?

Would leaving the boy's interview out of this particular story have diluted the understanding of the possible cause of the fire? I most certainly think not.

Another unrelated but also irksome gaffe was the obvious display of one newish  TV journalist's lack of understanding of Kenya's devolved system of governance, during a live newsfeed.

Starting out in the electronic media has its immense challenges, and I did have my share of journalistic mishaps and still continue to humanly err, but care must be always taken to avoid making too elementary of mistakes.

Friday, 3 September 2010


Investigative journalism is a major beacon at the heart of the watchdog role of the media. Television cameras often present viewers with compelling evidence of wrongdoing. But does that permit journalists to abuse their privileged position as they go about their business?

There's probably no way of setting ethical rules cast in stone because different circumstances dictate dissimilar approaches and various justifications can be advanced for any editorial decision.

It however comes dangerously close to crossing the professionalism line, when journalists assign themselves certain roles beyond their calling.

A case in point is when the reporters in the latest KTN Inside Story series, almost appear to wield arresting powers, usually associated with law enforcement agencies, as they seek to give their expose a dramatic twist.

Yes. The subjects might very well be illegal immigrants being smuggled into Kenya, but at what point does a journalist depart from pursuing the news elements, to unilaterally attempting to make a citizen's arrest?

In my estimation, which definitely stands to be corrected, it is unusual and a bit preposterous for a reporter to start ordering around the news subject, as the camera is rolling and then include the footage as part of the story.

It even gets more absurd, when the journalists finally just watch as the 'aliens' walk away, perhaps after realising that without police or immigration officers around, it is not in their place to detain them.

And remarkably, the other parts of this captivating series, did include law enforcement agents making such arrests. Is it a case of getting carried away by the thrills of the job? You decide.