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.




Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Drought. Famine. Hunger. Starvation. Death. These sequence of events has become irritatingly too familiar in Kenya. And yet many lives still end up being at risk, with some actually succumbing. During this crisis, I just can't help but wonder how any elected leader manages to get any sleep at night.

But is it a tad too convenient to point an accusing finger at leaders? Hell no. This dire situation and how to overcome it is exactly what true leadership is all about, if not preventing it from occurring in the first place.

Is there really an acute food shortage, arising out of a severe drought, erratic weather, massive crop failure or other circumstances beyond human control? Why am I not convinced.

When it rains, you here stories of flooding, hardly any of rain harvesting. When the harvest is bumper, you here a lot about produce price wars and very little about improving post-harvest practices or construction of new storage facilities.

Again, I'm mot convinced past, the current and a future similar crisis could not and cannot be averted.

Appropriate policy formulation and long-term planning, a decade plus into the 21st Century is achievable, even in Kenya.

Below is a sample of the coverage of the current drought crisis and reactions from the mainstream and social media.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


"...We don't know whether your work permits are still valid. But our legal department is looking into the issue and you can be assured they will be all over you like a bad itch..." That sounds like a threat. It was made on national TV. Is this a case of the media abusing it's powers?

Whether justified or not is really besides the point. You just don't use such language on the only public broadcaster, however aggrieved you are.

It appears the TV presenter in question was particularly upset by what she says was the confiscation of footage recorded by the crew of the programme, by the organizers of a  concert by Congolese Lingala music sensation Fally Ipupa.

Anyiko, presenter of KBC's Grapevine variety show

And right from the introduction of that segment, you could sense she was perhaps taking the matter very personally, otherwise how do you justify her comment that the Ipupa show was the most poorly organized in the entire history of the world?

If it was true some overzealous promoters, bouncers or concert officials did forcefully take the recorded material in fear that it would be used to paint them in bad light, then that needs to be condemned. But here, an eye for an eye should not suffice.

And that apparently has been the trend among people working in the media. They issue threats they will publish or broadcast bad things about somebody or a company, if they don't get their way. This is meant to scare the other party into accepting their demands.

If this is not abuse of office or powers that the media keeps highlighting, especially where government officials are involved, then I don't know what is.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Not for the first time, the topic of sex toys has found itself in Kenya's mainstream media, with yet another apology to boot. For to openly promote the use of gonad gadgets is nothing short of using journalism to corrupt public morals, let alone the veiled product endorsement.

Serious journalism should value the need to respect obtaining common decency levels, which curiously occurred as an afterthought for the offending paper. The apology rightly pointed to a realization that as a family paper, the bold content was inappropriate.

But on the same day the apology was getting published, another newspaper was giving the sex toys article new wings to fly.

This was courtesy of a columnist, better known for her prowess and outspokenness in the morning radio shows category.

On this account, Caroline Mutoko goes flat out to advocate for the right of women to take charge of their sexual fulfillment destiny, organically, mechanically, electronically or otherwise.

While respecting every one's right to hold an opinion, I am particularly distressed by Mutoko's parochial appreciation of the kind of influence she has as a public figure and the inherent and immense capacity to shape opinion, especially on impressionable young minds that readily access her media content.

It does not matter how much of a disclaimer she gives, that she is not a journalist, in her online page.

The bottom line is that she engages the public using journalism platforms and as such, her writings and utterances should not corrode the pillars of media ethics.

Mutoko's incessant quest for a 'toe-curling experience' cannot scientifically be generalized or extrapolated to the extent of defining the obtaining sexual needs of all the females in Kenya.

And as depicted in the local social media discussions below, there does appear to be subtle indication that she could have personalized or projected her own experiences way too much into her juicy article.

Monday, 4 July 2011


One advantage of digital migration is that TV stations will have more channels at their disposal. But not many industry players are enthusiastic about the challenge of identifying suitable content for the extra channels. I think some of these frequencies should be dedicated to community service, like medical appeals.

Many are the times I have heard to disappoint people seeking to have the plight of their relative or loved ones highlighted in the news, so that well-wishers out there can come to their assistance.

In as much as one may sympathize with people with health related problems, and might very much be willing to assist in having their cases aired, it is not such a simple decision for a news editor.

The reason for turning down such requests might appear insensitive and even selfish but it's nevertheless quite valid. Saying yes to one person and having a story aired is almost guaranteed to lead to one thing. More and more people calling in with similar requests.

If especially after highlighting a needy case, a great response is generated and donations and pledges of assistance come pouring in, you can be sure this will trigger more medical appeal requests.

There have been situations, where sick people are brought to broadcast stations and even abandoned there, in extreme cases. So as a policy, a media company might want to control coverage of medical appeals or restrict it to only the most unusual cases.

But as demonstrated by the story of the 4-year-old amputee, detained in hospital because of unsettled bills, which was aired by K24, people's willingness to help is something that needs to be tapped into not curtailed.

Hence my argument for some TV channels to be dedicated to community service, like facilitating medical appeals, once the country migrates to a digital platform.