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Thursday, 29 September 2011


The News Diamond model comes highly recommended for the 21st century newsroom. It still being an uncharted territory in this part of the world, I set out to find what new experience the model offers, within the confines of a Kenyan newsroom.

In the morning hours, shortly after been assigned to do a TV news story about plans to legally allow Kenya's intelligence officers to eavesdrop on private telephone conversations, I sent out an Alert in NTV's Facebook and Twitter account, with the aim of soliciting comments on the topic.

And the almost instant response, with some very compelling arguments for or against spy agents being allowed to tap people's phones, made me realise how involving the online community can favourably shape a news story, in its formative stages.

It is a pity that the NTV website is still an old-fashioned static one and so for the Draft stage, I wrote a quick-fire blog post that was hosted here in my personal blog, anchored by twitter comments harvested by a Storify article on the same subject, which I had earlier published. This elicited more comments from the blogosphere.

At this point, which was well into the afternoon hours, I could not do a proper Article or news Package, as recommended in the News Diamond model, because I had to schedule and follow up on TV interviews with a couple of experts.

I had in the meantime again linked my blog post on the subject to the NTV Facebook page, thanking the followers for their comments and inviting them to tune in that evening to watch the TV story. This again spawned more reactions on the subject.

And later that evening when I did the TV news piece, I had hoped to incorporate some of the rich online comments into the story to be aired, but was unable to because of time constraints. I did give it a mention though.

The Analysis or Reflection and Context stages thus were all hinged on that television story. And as for interactivity, I can quote the SMS, telephone and twitter messages I received after the story was transmitted.

Customisation stage could be covered by having the news clip posted on Youtube, and this blog post, which should possibly enable users to tailor-fit the information contained in my story, according to their respective needs.

And that is my energy-sapping but wonderful experience of the News Diamond model in a Kenyan newsroom.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


A draft of the National Intelligence Service Act seeks to legally empower state spies in Kenya to listen in on private telephone conversations. Similar to the Patriot Act in America, the aim is to proactively seek to contain crime. 

Human right activists are likely to raise a storm especially given that the Bill of Rights in Kenya's new Constitution safeguards rights to privacy from being infringed, even by state organs.

But there are those who feel that if the proposed surveillance will help keep citizens safe and curtail criminal activities, then that is a greater good, and the intrusion their privacy is a minor detail.

Will the needs of state security override individual's right to privacy in this instance? Opinion is somewhat divided as shown below, from a selection of views by Kenyans.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The world is mourning the passing of a modern day Kenyan legend, a champion of environmental conservation and fierce fighter for social justice. And even these words cannot begin to describe Prof. Wangari Maathai.

My first personal encounter with her was in 1997, while working for a local NGO, when I was tasked with monitoring her then campaigns for Kenya's presidential elections, as well as the Tetu parliamentary seat, which she both lost.

But despite such setbacks on the political sphere, her trail-blazing global fame soared, buoyed by her zeal for matters environmental. This was to culminate in her clinching the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

Prof. Maathai continued to scoop accolade after international accolade. I vividly recall attending one of the occasions to bestow her in absentia with an honour in Cape Town South Africa, and the awe that struck me, when she expressed her gratitude via a recorded video link, to clapping invited guests in a foreign country.

As her television reporter, I did interview her a number of times, the last of which was at the sidelines of an African Union conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Her clarity of thought, when discussing pertinent issues was amazing and her steadfast focus on protecting mother nature was always a joy to highlight.

Farewell Prof. Wangari Maathai. The world is so much greener because of you and your spirit, legacy and inspiration will endure till the ends of time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


How many people have died? That's a very common query put to sources or reporters by news editors, whenever a tragic incident occurs. And the number of those killed religiously becomes the most important element in the subsequent story. Isn't this morbid fascination with deaths by Kenyan media out of line?

Most unfortunately, the past few days have been full of tragic news in this country, ranging from loss of lives in a fire tragedy, to deaths from consumption of illicit brews, multiple road accidents and even a collapsed building that was still under construction.

Whereas it is the role of the media to report such occurrences, I just find the manner in which this noble duty is being carried out to be very wanting, because of what almost amounts to an obsession with giving tragic news a hyper treatment.

And such reportage is very often made worse by the seemingly inability of the local press to get facts right, before splashing the number of those killed in this or that tragedy. It's therefore not surprising for one  media outlet to quote one figure of the fatalities, while another states totally different numbers, about the same news story.

The lesson from America I'm suggesting, comes from the way the air race exhibition crash in Nevada was reported. That piece of horrifying breaking news first only indicated there were 'mass casualties,' and a couple of deaths.

Lessons for Kenyan media from America

Compare that with how news of the Sinai fire tragedy in Nairobi was initially clogged with all manner of confused estimations of the number of those who had perished.

Apart from spreading panic and possibly exacerbating the trauma of those affected or their relatives, let alone the gory images that were carelessly being screened on TV and later published in the papers, such news coverage depicts a media with very dubious ethical standards and warped sense of patriotism.

It's almost as if the local media prefers to nonchalantly give as much gory details as possible in a sickening misconception that this will deliver higher ratings/ readership or circulation figures.

What about the damaging perception about our country that such mishandled tragic news can potentially create in the global arena? How can this boost investor confidence? How about credit ratings for the country?

And it really makes no sense to always be quick to condemn the western media about their overtly negative coverage of news from Africa and then continue in the same vein, when telling our own stories.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Sex sells. That has got to be one of the most tried and tested concept in mass media circles. But ironically, a lot of effort is also directed towards maintaining acceptable decency or modesty levels in society, apparently to protect the public from getting too much of what they crave for.

In comes a daring television show, co-hosted by Getrude Mungai, which seemingly is succeeding in bringing down the remaining bastions of television taboo.

The interest generated by the K24 show has generally been quite healthy, and once one gets past the initial shock of hearing 'bedroom matters' being discussed openly and unabashedly, one begins to appreciate indeed, there is a pertinent need being addressed.

But predictably, this boldness in highlighting sexuality issues is raising morality and ethical concerns that in the end lead to that eternal question: just how much is too much?

Below is a cross-section of views from social media networks.

Monday, 5 September 2011


In yet another phenomenal departure from your usual news presentation, the news anchors of NTV County Edition have been dazzling viewers with their tasteful traditional outfits that reflect the culture of the community from where they are broadcasting from.

In a commendable effort to fit in and indeed depict the seriousness given to the strategy of devolving news to the very grass-root level, the anchors have bequeathed a much needed appreciation for the diverse nature of Kenya's ethnic communities.

It is a marvel to watch this mode of county news presentation, given its added authentic feel and how the anchor introductions seamlessly flow into the video clips of the main stories, in a very contextualized fashion.

It is a welcomed deviation from the very common suits for men and formal wear wear for women, which predictably oscillates between skirt or trouser suits with brightly coloured tops.

I am of the school of thought that feels it looks awkward for a male TV reporter, e.g., to be telling a sports story and then appear in a tie and suit, when doing a piece to camera from the stadium or whatever sports arena.

So the idea of donning traditional outfits is quite refreshing and also communicates the fact that NTV County Edition is not seeking to indulge in parachute journalism, where they just land in a part of Kenya and then pretentiously seek to appear to know all there is to know about a given region.

Instead, one gets the feeling that the crew is trying hard to first understand the stories they are covering and the values of their host communities, knowing too well that they are outsiders at the very least, before relaying the same to an expectant national audience.

It is indeed a joy to watch regional news sugar-coated with such an underlying sense of focused treatment, designed to bring out all the issues in an enlightened yet humble mode of presentation, devoid of any negative pre-conceptions.

And that in essence, is the beauty, strength and enduring appeal of NTV's County Edition