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.




Saturday, 29 January 2011


Subduing a people's collective will, can only lead to one eventual conclusion. The triumph of the people's will, no matter the price of sacrifice that must be paid, even if this is measured in terms of human lives lost. That's why the victors in the Egyptian uprising can only be the Egyptian people.

Weary of the impact of social media, the Egyptian authorities have resorted to clamping down Internet connections. But stopping an idea, whose time has come can hardly be achieved this or any other way.

Thanks to the likes of Al Jazeera and the BBC, a minute by minute account of what is going on in Egypt is still being beamed across the world.

And political analysts are already starting to deconstruct the complex and more all less covert interests of the US and Israel governments, and their dwindling hopes of a continuation of a Mubarak-led regime.

The Arab World, some say, will never be the same again, thanks to the extra-ordinary courage of that frustrated Tunisian man, whose self-immolation set off the chain reaction that is now reverberating in neighbouring Algeria, Egypt and as far as Yemen and Jordan.

Hooray to the spirit of self-determination. Hooray to the people's will. Hooray to the dismantling of despotic regimes.

Friday, 21 January 2011


It's a shocking case of police officers killing 3 suspected criminals in broad daylight. Not unusual in Kenya, unless you consider the execution was in full glare of members of the public. Any responsible media outlet should condemn such brazen  killings. But, don't criminals mercilessly kill the same way?

                                          One of the suspects being executed, courtesy Daily Nation

It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, 'an eye for an eye makes the whole world  blind.' But, 'an eye for a smile,' I hasten to add, 'would make the whole world smileless.'

It is understandably quite easy to condemn the killing of suspected criminals, without recourse to the due process of the law. After all, law enforcers are not above the same law they seek to enforce.

But spare a thought for those, who have had the misfortune of being terrorised by these so-called suspects. The trauma generated is almost impossible to erase, whether the 'suspects' kill their victims or spare their lives.

And when police officers are killed in the line of duty, not much protestation is elicited, at least not one bordering a national outcry.

The recent case of a traffic policeman being engaged in a very physical confrontation with a 'suspected,' offender, is a case in point. It was to an extent, reduced to an 'enjoyable' spectacle, with some even siding with the person resisting arrest.

So yes. In a just society, there is no place for killing 'suspects' but the operative word is 'just.' In that ideal world, criminals would not abound in the first place and it's just unfair to always be eager to turn against the very people trying to protect lives and property.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Many reasons have been given for the poor performance of Kiswahili, in the 2010 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. From poorly trained teachers, mother tongue interference, to the street parlance known as Sheng, and the media. The other issues have been expounded on greatly in the media but can the same media report about its own failure to nurture Kiswahili?

The Swahili have a saying: 'Kinyozi hajinyoi,' which when loosely translated means a barber cannot shave himself. This practically could explain, why the Kenyan media has been a bit timid, when it comes to pointing an accusing finger at itself.

But at times, some good can come out of being one's own harshest critic. As a journalist, I have my own share of verbal faux paux and admitting them is not shameful. So, how does the media contribute, especially to the degradation of language skills?

It has been argued that people made famous by constantly featuring in the media, (celebrities?), more often than not end up influencing the mannerisms of their audience, because of rightfully or wrongfully being regarded in high esteem.

So what is likely to happen, if a popular comedian like Churchill uses a grammatically incorrect word like 'overspeeding,' when delivering one of his rib-crackers? There is a chance, however small, somebody somewhere will repeat the same mistake.

And as for Kiswahili, highly rated television programmes like Papa Shirandula thrive on a systematic and deliberate massacre of acceptable syntax, to reflect ethno-stereotypes that have been the lifeblood of Kenyan comedy.

It can be argued that the antics of comedians are serving a different entertainment purpose and linking them to exam performances is far-fetched.
But ultimately, the joke could be on that examination candidate using phrases like, 'mtoto changu,' and 'kalamu vyake!' as heard in local television or radio.

Friday, 7 January 2011


As a tradition, the Nation Media Group regularly accepts nationals from various countries as interns. They bring some fresh perspectives and a new set of eyes that help interpret every day events in new ways. And yet their presence, especially on television, it appears, is not an altogether welcomed sight.

Not surprising perhaps, a foreign national reporting on local issues, cannot be expected to have a 100% grasp of the subject matter, right?

Wrong, in my considered opinion. If the intern or even an exchange programme journalist posted to a Nairobi media house has had relevant prior training, then they have a reasonable capacity to do a professional job.

In any case, such trainees are not just allowed a free hand but are guided every step of the way by experienced editors or news producers. So why should it be automatically assumed they cannot relate in a sufficient manner, with local issues they have been assigned to write or report about?

Moreover, is the colour of one's skin such a big deal that a white trainee will be viewed as having taken up an opportunity that should have been accorded a 'more' deserving local resident? I think not.

          A Local Kenyan Story, as Reported by Canadian Lisa Weighton

Unless of course the debate is taken through the narrow paths of racial profiling, historical subjugation or post-colonial hang-ups and supremacists polemics. In any case, Kenya is a multicultural society and fast becoming multi-racial to a critical extent.

And as argued by Robert Hernandez:

"If we don't reflect our communities....if we don't listen to others outside of our own individual communities, we've missed the point of journalism."
Now therein is a gem worth memorising.